by Dan Weyerhaeuser, Senior Pastor

Jesus had an incredible influence in our world. He continues to do so today through us, His people. In the last few days, I have heard the stories of different people Jesus has reached, encouraged, guided, and comforted through other Christians.

Pretty amazing that He wants to use you to minister to people you know… neighbors, co-workers, friends, family members. It’s not a bad way to spend your day, being an agent of actual healing for someone else.

One thing is sure: the work Jesus wants to do through you flows more freely to other people across a bridge of trust in you. In other words, the more someone trusts you, the more open they are to the God in you. We grow as influencers as we grow as people others can trust. Learning to R.E.A.D. people will build those bridges.

For several months, we’ve been learning a conversation strategy called “R.E.A.D.” I’ve been walking through this strategy slowly because I want us to do more than sort-of understand it, I want us to actually be able to live it.

When you Repeat what people have said until they agree you understood them, and try to summarize the Experience they must have been having in the story they are sharing, you are communicating that you are entering into what they are telling you. You care about what they care about and are sharing in their story.

Today we add  “A.” Affirm every true thing you can.

Perhaps this seems so obvious it doesn’t require comment, but when people share with you their story, especially if it is personal and at all vulnerable, they are assured when the person listening agrees with the validity of what they are sharing.

“That’s outrageous!” I said recently to a friend who had become the subject of derogatory comments on social media. It was! The person was accused of attitudes that were MILES away from who he is. I know this, so it was important to agree with him about this. All I was doing was affirming the truthfulness of what my friend was sharing.  When you love someone, you stand with them on hard days, and one way you do that is to affirm what is true in their story.

As people share their stories with you, be listening for true and important things they share. You want to Affirm them! It builds up the person with whom you are speaking.

QUESTION: What happens when there are things not true about a person’s perspective? I once heard another friend complaining about how they had been let down by a counselor who confronted them. As I listened, I honestly thought, “I think you probably needed confronting.” It would not have been truthful to affirm my friend’s claim that he’d been abandoned by a counselor. So I didn’t. Instead I backed up to “E” and said, “That must have been hard to not feel like you could trust your counselor.”

You will not be able to affirm everything others tell you as true, and we will get to “Disclose” your opinion soon enough.

But for now as you listen to people talk, you become a person of trust when you affirm every true thing you can.

Keep building.

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