Winning With People Part 1: How We see

On Sunday 28th June at our morning service, we started our new series Winning With People with the topic 'How We See'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.

To listen to the talk on-line, please click here.
To download the talk to listen to off line, please click here.

Talk Summary

A traveller nearing a great city asked an old man seated by the road, “what are the people like in this city?” “What were they like where you came from?” the man asked. “Horrible” the traveller reported “mean, untrustworthy, detestable in all respects”. “Ah” said the man, “you will find them the same in the city ahead”. Scarcely had the first traveller gone on his way when another stopped to inquire about the people in the city before him. Again the old man asked about the people in the place the traveller had just left. “They were fine people: honest, industrious, and generous to a fault” declared the traveller “I was sorry to leave”. The old man responded “that’s exactly how you’ll find the people here”.

The way we see others is often reflection of the way in which we see ourselves:
•    If I am a trusting person, I will see others as trustworthy
•    If I am a critical person, I will see others as critical
•    If I am a caring person, I will see others as compassionate

How we see ourselves is often the single biggest factor in how we see others. If our inner voices are angry, bitter, frustrated or if our self image is too low or too high then it affects our capacity to relate to other people because it affects how we see them.

Do you want to be a better friend, be a better partner, be a better father or mother, be a better brother or sister, be a better son or daughter? If you’re not a Christian then the good news is that this stuff is as relevant to you as it is to anyone else.

There is a story from the life of Jesus that perfectly illustrates this issue of how we see others being affected by how we see ourselves. In the story we hear about two very different people. The story can be found in Luke’s account of Jesus’ life chapter 7 verses 36 to 47. You can read this by clicking here.

Simon is a Pharisee and he is self righteous and believes that he is better than everyone else. He looks down on the woman who arrives in his home, he calls her a sinner (verse 39). He fails to understand that he is a sinner too, we all are. Because he has this distorted self image he looks down on the woman, he is unable to see her as she really is, there is much more to her than her behaviour. And he is failing to see Jesus for who he really is too. He needs to look in the mirror and take a good look at himself.

Look what Jesus says to Simon in verse 44 – do you see this woman. Do you really see her? The stuff going on inside of you Simon, is meaning that you can’t really see her for who she is.

But the woman here, she knows herself. She knows that she is in need of forgiveness and because of that she is able to see Jesus for who he is. The one who can forgive her and set her free.

In his book “Winning with People” John Maxwell talks about something called “the mirror principle” and that is highlighted by that story. The mirror principle says that if we want to build great relationships the first person we must examine is ourselves. 

People who are unaware of who they are and what they do often damage their relationships with others
•    The way to change that is to look in the mirror and as we look in the mirror to consider these statements: The first person I must know is myself - self awareness
•    The first person I must get along with is myself - self esteem
•    The first person to cause me problems is myself - self honesty
•    The first person I must change is myself - self improvement
•    The first person that can make a difference is myself - self responsibility

The truth is that really the only way to really get an accurate view of ourselves is to ask others to help and the best question we can ask is this “what’s it like to be on the other side of me?” The way to change is to look at ourselves and do the hard work of starting to change ourselves and that starts with looking in the mirror and asking others to help us with that.

Questions and Reflections (to think about on your own or to discuss in your small group)

1. Can you think of a time when what was going on inside of you affected your ability to relate to others?

2. Do you find it easier to judge other people rather than look at yourself?

3. What do you think Simon the Pharisee was thinking when the woman arrived in his home?

4. What do you think Jesus was thinking?

5. What was going on inside of Simon that caused him to react to the woman and to Jesus in the ways that he did?

6. What was going on inside of the woman to cause her to react towards Jesus as she did?

7. What was going on inside of Jesus to cause him to react to both the woman and to Peter as he did?

8. Who do you most feel like in the story? Who do you most want to be like?

9. When you look in the mirror and use those five statements which one speaks loudest to you? What are you going to do as a result?

10. Who might you ask “what is it like to be on the other side of me?”