Have you ever been in a situation where someone made you feel like a million bucks? A few years ago, I had an experience like that at my church.
Wess Stafford, then president of Compassion International, was visiting our church to receive a donation offered by the kids who attended Vacation Bible School. Wess had already met my husband, Kevin, and as he walked up the aisle past us, he said hello to Kevin and asked to be introduced to me. After a brief but warm conversation, he moved on.
This brief exchange made me feel important. It feels good when someone shows you that you are worth their time. On the flip side, it feels pretty rotten when they do the opposite.
When my husband worked for a large coffee chain, his boss let him in on a little secret: He pointed out that at every establishment, there is “Bob.” Bob is a customer who comes in every day. He’s pleasant and tips well. You know his coffee drink and have it ready before he even reaches the register. And then there’s “not Bob.”
“Not Bob” may only visit once or twice. He may not be as cool or as fun as Bob. And you may serve this customer with a little (or a lot) less enthusiasm. “When it comes to our customer service, every person should be Bob,” Kevin’s supervisor explained.
There’s a biblical precedent for making others feel valued. First, every person is created in God’s image, which makes every person valuable to Him. Second, we’re told that people will know we are His by how we love each other (John 13:35). Sadly, I’ve been on the winning and losing side of cliques and popularity contests in the church. Being included and valued feels awesome; being ignored and unappreciated does not.
With that said, here are four ways to make people feel important.
1. Ask questions.
Did you know that if you ask questions, you will appear to be a better conversationalist? This is something I learned when I studied journalism. It’s true that most people enjoy talking about themselves, but think about why they enjoy talking about themselves. It makes them feel valued and important!
Like me, you may have experienced talking with someone who doesn’t ask you anything about yourself. Nothing says “You’re not important” like failing to ask questions. Paul encouraged the believer to “look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 4:2, ESV). You can’t know the interests of others without asking questions.
2. Offer praise.
I once heard someone say that if you are thinking something complimentary about someone, you should say it. Do you like the way a co-worker gave a presentation? Tell her. Notice how your friend is frequently considerate of others? Let him know. Admire how your sister is dealing with being a mom? Tell her so. I’m not talking about flattery here, but genuine praise. Proverbs 27:2 tells us that compliments have their place: “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” A genuine compliment affirms the God-given value you see in another person.
Questions and praise alone fall short if they are not accompanied by genuine caring. What do you do when you ask a question and discover a need? Sometimes it takes effort to truly engage with someone at the point of need.
A woman in my small group would consistently ask me how I was doing. When I finally confided in her that I was stressed out about finding childcare for our meeting times, she found a back-up sitter and even pooled some money with others in the group to help cover childcare costs. Her actions spoke louder than any words she could have used to communicate that she valued our presence at the group.
4. Treat everyone like “Bob.”
Even in churches, there can be “Bob” and “not Bob.” James had some harsh words for people who were showing favoritism in the church, mincing no words that they were committing sin (James 2:9). We shouldn’t reserve our attention and honor for those whom we like best or who impress us most. Your manner should be the same whether you’re talking to your senior pastor, the elderly woman next to you or a 5-year-old child. I love what Paul says in Romans 12:10: “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
So let’s outdo each other in showing honor. Let’s make people feel important — because they are. Let’s treat everyone like “Bob.”