Human Diversity: Goal-Oriented People
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People-oriented person, cont.
I said last week that I wanted to give a few conclusions about the people oriented person. I wanted to talk about making the transition from being self-centered to being others-centered. Because that is the real treasure of the people-oriented person–when they become truly others-centered instead of being a sponge, taking from people.
What is a sponge?
Some of you last week were wondering about this notion of a people-person becoming a “sponge”, in that I said that without God’s help, a people oriented person will look at other people as a source to take from. Naturally, they have this tremendous attraction to people. But when that goes astray, as it always does apart from God, they will look at people as a source of selfish stimulation. Their motto is, “Turn me on.”
I don’t want you to get the impression that the people person is any more selfish than anyone else. They’re not. It’s just that when a people person is selfish, they turn to other people to take from. Someone else may withdraw from people. Another person may use people as tools. But the people person gets hungry for stimulation from other people.
Why are people selfish?
Now when I use this term, “selfish,” you should understand that every human suffers from it.
The Bible is real clear that people in this world are self-centered. I don’t mean to say that we never notice anyone. I don’t mean to say that we don’t care about anyone else. What I mean to say is that the reason we care about people and the reason we notice others is because it somehow benefits us.
I am the boss of my life. I call the shots. If I get to a point with anything where the costs outweigh the benefits, I move along.
Example: Take something as absolutely bizarre as an abusive relationship. Why does someone stay in one of these? It’s because they perceive a benefit. If they didn’t, they would move on. They want something too. And that’s where we get terms like, “co-dependant.”
The only freedom from that, the Bible tells us, is when we meet God. When we meet God, then we can serve another master besides ourselves. Not a master who is warped and twisted like ourselves. Not a master who can’t see beyond the end of his nose. Not a master who is self-serving like us. The loving authority of God.
Example: Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
He is saying, as he does in many places, that he is the one who has the keys to freedom.
Of course, this is what scares us about God. We’re afraid of the fact that he is an authority, that he wants to have a say in our lives. But this is why I am doing this series. It’s to show that God doesn’t hurt us. God sets us free. God is the one, as we talked about last week, who has the secrets that we are desparate for. He has the key to unlock human behavior and potential.
In this matter of the people-person, he is the one who can free us from the self-centered perspective that we talked about last week. And it is something that we should want to be freed from too. When you are self centered, people notice it. It makes people back away.
Example: I had a friend who was a people person, but he had let selfishness reign in his life to the point that he viewed people as the total source of life. And it just so happened that this guy was real hugry. He was the kind of guy who would come up to you and you knew, “Man, this guy’s gonna cost!” And it was a drag. And so what happened? People ran away. And he was more hungry. So the next time he would be foaming at the mouth . . .
This is an extreme cycle. But it is being played out at greater and lesser extents all over. Being our own boss is not fulfilling. We think it is but it’s not. God has a better way.
A relationship with God
Someone mentioned last week that a relationship with God is where things really get going for a POP. I agree. That has to be the place to start.
By a relationship with God I mean that you come to God in humility and admit that you need him. Which is just the opposite attitude that we all start with. You come to God and admit that you need his forgiveness. You need him and you don’t deserve it. This is the humble attitude God is looking for.
And God will go from there and begin a relationship with you. This is the part that’s scary. Because we are all afraid of what God is going to do. But listen, you have to be ready to believe that God is good. We can’t go any further without that.
Example: There are always things about my character that God is working on. But one issue that has stricken me lately is the matter of control. It’s an issue that seems so innocent. Because I want to have control of things for very good reasons. And yet, God takes issue with me on this. He brings it up because that issue of control is just another way we play God in our own lives and in the lives of others. Well, that’s real scary to me. If I give up control, that’s to trust someone else. Something as simple as doing things my wife’s way as opposed to mine. But ultimately, it’s not a matter of trusting my wife or any other human. It’s a matter of trusting God. I have to pray and read the scriptures to get it in my mind that the one calling for this change is the God who loves me.
So, you have a relationship with God. And you know what? God wants to be the source of a lot of what you were looking for in other people. God is a person. And he wants a relationship where he can provide you with energy, stimulation, comfort, all the things that you were looking for from others.
Give what you want
Secondly, as a people person, you have a knack that maybe none of the others of us have as much. You know what people really want from people. You want it so much yourself. You know exactly what it is that people want from other people. It’s what you crave.
So, you’re in a unique position to give that to people. This is what I was driving at last week. The people person can become the person among us who is a real turn-on. They are positive. They can be encouraging . . .
Example: I had a friend who became a Christian. And I saw at one point that he was getting frustrated with his Christian experience. He was in a real dry and frustrating phase. I suggested to him, “Why don’t you try to get invovled in a couple people’s live here and serve them. You know, get in there and share God’s love with them.” He said, “I’m a real young Christian. I wouldn’t know how to do that.” “Just give them the same things that turn you on.” To this day, even though I don’t see him that much anymore, what I do hear is that when people get with him, they are uplifted, inspired.
On the other hand, I can warn you. If you are a people person, and you don’t learn to give to people in the areas you hunger, you will have a very, very frustrated Christian experience. Give to people, in the very areas you are hungry.
The goal oriented person
The next person I want to talk about is the goal-oriented person, or the task-oriented person.
Who they are
As the people person gets off on people, the GOP gets his happiness or fulfillment from setting and achieving goals. They like to accomplish things.
Example: I feel some affinity with this type of person. And it’s not uncommon for me to lie awake at night thinking of some project. I’ll be visualizing how I could do it better and faster.
Once again, not all of us are this way. Not all of us would be so excited about a project that we can’t fall asleep. Not all of us would go the the library and check out books on how to do something better. Not all of us would get so focused on accomplishing a project that we would forget to eat, go without sleep and certainly without human contact, all in order to finish.
How we need them
Sometimes we can feel like this type of pretty weird. They can be unsocial, which they are. They can seem obsessed with their own thing, which they are. They can appear to view people around them as project, or evaluate people by how well they fit into plans, which they do.
Yet, this kind of person, if God can have his way, is indispensible to us. This kind of person can motivate us to action, like perhaps no other. And accomplishing things, is, by the way, one of the great ways God has given us to be fulfilled in this life. I don’t think it is by any means the only way, as some do. But if you look at the Bible, you will see that achieving and accomplishing is one of the great ways God has given us for fulfillment.
Example: We don’t have to turn there, but one of the ways that Jesus appealed to the disciples to follow him, forsaking everything, was by way of a task. “Come on,” he said, “I’ll make you fishers of men.” And he told them that he was going to give them the power to have worldwide impact.
Some of you are not accomplishing very much. You’re not achieving very much. And that in itself is enough to lead to a lot of unhappiness. If you’re not able to look at your life and see yourself accomplishing things, then you know that things aren’t right.
And it’s here that we can learn from a GOP.
The danger of using people
And of course, this is where the real danger of the GOP is: He can tend to value things more than people. People can become nothing more than pieces of his plan to get something done.
In fact, the normal development of this type of person is that they become more and more socially estranged. It’s not that they don’t like people or something. It’s that people are a detraction, they take work. And when you start to get obsessed with your own plans and your own goals, you don’t want any such distractions–unless of course they happen to fit in. This is why people feel used by this sort.
And the really dangerous part of it all is that the GOP can become used to being more or less estranged from people. Now, I don’t want to say that they become happy with it. You can never be happy if you don’t deeply emerse yourself in people. We’ll talk about that in a bit. But there is a phenomenon, whereby a GOP can grow comfortable with a relative state of loneliness. He just focuses on his goals . . . It’s not a happy state, just a comfortable one.
Example: I was talking once to an Air Force Colonel who had been shot down and taken prisoner over Viet Nam. In the years he was in prison, one of the things he had to go through was being chained to the floor for days on end, in his own excriment. What he told me was that you can kind of wiggle around and get comfortable. There are ways to get comfortable there. But you never actually feel good.
This is the most dreadful of all conditions. When you can wriggle around and somehow get comfortable with a state that is actually horrible, that’s bad. That’s real bad.
Without a doubt, the GOP has to take as a first measure in his relationship with the Lord to pray that he is never comfortable with just achieving goals. “God, never let me be happy, or even close, with just acheiving goals.”
Example: I’ve prayed this to God. And I thank him that what he has given me is a strong dose of introspection. It comes across to some people as depression. But I’ll tell you, if I didn’t have it, I would be lost to this world. You certainly wouldn’t see me doing something this sociable–talking to crowds of people. I’ll wake up first things in the morning, “You’re lonely. You’re way out of touch with people. You spent the whole night with so and so last night and didn’t even get personal.” And the conviction just settles in on me like a weight. If I didn’t have that, I would just pop up and go get ’em with another goal!
And I would grow comfortable with something that is ultimately destructive.
Pray to God tonight that he won’t let you grow comfortable with whatever problem you have. Even if it isn’t the GOP problem. Pray to him that you will feel uneasy, heavy hearted, weighed down, until you come to terms with it. I know that if you pray that prayer in sincerity, God will answer it.
People are the real meaning of life
The person I want to look at when it comes to this type is Paul the apostle. I want to look at Paul because somehwere along the line, he had some major victory over the things we are talking about. He learned to love people.
Let’s look at a couple passages
I Cor. 9:24-27
First, let’s be real clear that Paul was this type. There is a passage in I Cor. 9 where Paul compares his life to a race at the Olympic games. In v. 24 he says,
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Only a GOP would describe his life with this kind of analogy. And Paul does this all over the place. “Crush the enemy, achieve victory, pursue the goal.”
I Thess. 2:7, 8
But there was something about Paul that is very different. Look with me at a passage in I Thess,
But we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.
These are not the words of a pure GOP. This man has been changed to the point that he is talking about taking time out to tenderly love people. If you know anything about a monther’s love for a child, it’s (normally at least) not so that they can use that child for something purpose or goal. That love is an end in itself.
And Paul is saying, “You guys mean a lot to me.”
I Cor. 13
And of course if you read Paul’s chapter on love, you couldn’t find a better refined perspective on loving other people. It’s the one that you find hanging on kitchen walls, etc. “Love is patient, love is kind . . .”
But it’s the way Paul starts off that amazes me,
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Here he lists all these accomplishments like having all knowledge. And he says, “It’s nothing. Compared to love it’s nothing.”
This is a transformation. This is a transformation of character, where God took a man whose natural instinct was to be obsessed with goals. And he turned him into a person whose goals revolve around people. In other words, God used that goal orientation to turn Paul into the kind of man who loved people with a vengance. He loved people ferociously.
The love of people became his goal.
I want to drop a note here about our culture. Our culture is a warping, twisting place to live. This notion, that to enjoy and love people is a goal, is lost on our culture.
We toss around slogans like, “Family matters most to me!” Or, “What I really care about is people, most of all!”
But that’s not what happens in real life. Whether we’re GOP’s or not, our primary value is not relationships with other people.
Example: Our idea of a good social time is going to a movie together.
Example: We spent family time together and watched TV. And if you ever tried anything else, “Oh, disgust me!” Imagine sitting around and just talking with your family!
I don’t know. Maybe I came from a weird part of the world. But I don’t think so. You may fight with your family. But you don’t just sit there and say, “So, how are you doing?”
Example: Or, if you’re really a “social butterfly,” then you can go to a bar and act completely false for a night. You can pretend to be someone you aren’t! But at least you’re doing it with a bunch of other pretenders, so it’s social.
The plain fact is, we are a very alienated culture. The centerpiece of a person’s life is work, career. A woman, or a man for that matter, these days is made to feel guilty if she decides that she wants to focus on family.
It is actually revered if a young scholar or sports-figure forsakes all his personal relationships and his personal development to completely fixate on some goal. That’s great! And we’ll do a human interest story on it!
Example: Think of this. When was the last time you sat down with a friend and said, “So, how have you been feeling?”
Example: Go beyond that. If you say that you are all about people and caring for people. When was the last time you talked to someone about how you make them feel? “So, how have I made you feel lately?”
To most folks that’s just a downright bizarre question! And yet, to not be talking in those terms indicates that there is a distance there, an alienation.
Our culture is a warping and twisting environment. But God wants to change that.
Pray that he won’t let you rest easy
Set specific goals with people
The kinds of goals should be along these lines: How can I effect their feelings?
I say that because a GOP would normally set goals like, “He needs to be changed here and there . . .” That’s great. Do that too. But set specific goals to effect people’s feelings.
Let conviction sink in
Most important, after a night with people, sit back and evaluate what happened. This introspection is so important. Sit back and ask, “How did I make this person feel?”
If you’re confused, then you need to start asking questions of people who aren’t.