It’s December. Perhaps you are scurrying around searching to find just the right Christmas gifts for loved ones. Do you find yourself so consumed with holiday preparations that you don’t have time to visit the elderly neighbor? Or play with your children? Do you know your child’s favorite game before she asks?
Especially during hectic times, I like to remind myself that no other gift can match giving myself to others. Preferring one another is the foundation for all of the “one anothers” Christ lays out for us. If I am not willing to prefer you, I will be reluctant to encourage, support or comfort you because ministering the “one anothers” requires me to focus on others instead of myself.
Selfishness undermines our ability to put others first. As long as we think trimming the designer Christmas tree, setting an elegant dinner table or taking the perfect family photo is more important, other people won’t be a priority.
Before the celebrations begin, consider these practical ways to prefer one another.
1. Take the initiative to discover other people’s needs, interests and preferences. It is difficult to prefer others if we don’t know what they prefer.
2. Discern people’s skills, talents and gifts. Initiate opportunities for them to use these gifts.
3. Learn to prefer others in various ways – emotionally, physically, spiritually.
4. Try to include everyone in the conversation during gatherings. Especially during large holiday celebrations, extroverts can dominate the talk. Engage the reluctant participant, and you will both be blessed.
5. Look beyond self to become other-people-oriented. We often think the rest of the world revolves around us, our family, our church, our school, our business, our nation. Take some time to see the world through another person’s eyes.
6. Listen to others and encourage them to talk about themselves. Conversations that focus on the other person show our interest in them.
My resolve for the New Year is to adopt the same attitude Christ has: “Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:4) May the celebration of Jesus’ birth remind us of His selfless sacrifice for our sins. He prefers us so that we can learn to prefer others.