Life Lesson: “People are fascinating, which is a tremendous gift. Choose carefully the people after whom you model your life.”
1 Corinthians 2:11 ESV For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
Proverbs 20:5 ESV The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.
College gives you the opportunity to get to know the widest variety of people in your life up to this point. You are likely to meet people from almost any state or country: international students, Greek- life students, students on scholarships, pre-med or pre-law students, etc. And professors, well, they are another level of eccentricity!
This variety of people is wonderful. You get the opportunity to ask questions, to learn what people like or dislike, to wonder why they do certain things, why they dress a certain way or talk a certain way. Not to mention, you get to know them quickly when they do goofy things without trying! Without your parents around, you will quickly share a lot about yourself and learn a lot about others. That is also why you may feel closer to a few people after a month in the dorm than you felt with high school classmates over several years.
You will find people who outwardly appear very different from you, but as you get to know them, you realize you have very similar values, thinking, and disposition. The opposite is also true: you will meet people who may have a very similar background to you, but they believe and act very differently than you. Even though many people at a particular school may have a certain outward “look”, there is huge variety under the surface. College also is a great time to find people whom you admire, after whom you want to model your life. Choose those people carefully.
From personal experience, one kind of person you want to be careful of during these years is the person who seems exciting and spontaneous–or some other engaging quality such as wealth, humor, sarcasm, or extreme commitment to a certain cause–but after a while you realize he or she wants to pull you into their agenda or their issues. This is not the person who simply wants a listening ear. Rather, this is the kind of person who goes out of their way to talk to you, but you realize after a while that your conversations often end with you being talked into something or feeling mistreated. You feel used. You realize you were more useful to that person’s decision or “plan”, instead of being valued for who you are as an individual. This has happened to me more than once, because my disposition is to want to help others, and I tend to be a people-pleaser. It happened to me with both Christians and non-Christians. What’s worse, at times I have been that “user” person myself. That is because, due to sin, I don’t even understand my own motivations.
That brings us to 1 Corinthians 2:11. Paul is telling the Corinthians in chapters 2 and 3 that only by the Spirit of God can a person fully understand his own spirit, and more importantly, know Christ. Only by grace do we receive God’s Spirit, and only by grace (and humility under God’s word, the Bible), do we see our own motivations clearly enough to change. Sometimes we need others to point out our wrong motives, even though that is painful.
They call them blind spots because YOU can’t see them. But there is good news: “We have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16) As you continually yield your agendas to Jesus, you will grow in your self awareness and your compassion for other people.
Here are two takeaways:
- People are definitely worth getting to know, even if you are “weirded out” by some, or you are the one who seems weird! Don’t allow people’s appearance, quirks, or most of all social labels keep you from being genuine and taking a genuine interest in them.
- Every person you meet is a person who is made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), and in whom the Spirit of God is working in some way. Even though the “natural” person does not accept the things of God, The Spirit of God can give you insight into how to interact with them (even atheist professors!). Behind a person’s comments in the dining hall, their questions in class, or their passing statements on the sidewalk lie the deeper issues of heartache, longing, curiosity, hope, disappointment, fear, arrogance, guilt, shame, or even indifference.
Ask the Spirit of God to give you the mind of Christ as you interact with people. There is no other time in your life when you will be around as many people who are different from you in a variety of ways. Ask Jesus to show you what you can learn from them.