I clicked on an email from someone I know, only to notice on the Cc line that it was also being sent to about a hundred other people. My level of engagement immediately plummeted. The formula is something like: Interest is inversely proportional to the number of other people who are being appealed to. I recognize this as a bad thing about myself.
I have also received snail mail from a missionary I don't know. It is a form letter, but it starts off "Hey Andrée" (it even has the little accent above the first "e"). Not only that but the first paragraph is all about me! The sender knows a few facts about my life, and it makes all the difference, of course. (What wonderful people that family is, after all!) My father learned in a Dale Carnegie course that every person likes the sound of his or her own name.
A few Sundays ago, the pastor unexpectedly mentioned my son in the middle of his sermon. (My son has been in major trouble, but the mention was kind.) After that, I liked the second half of the sermon a lot better than the first half.
Maybe this is why churches have a hard time getting people involved. Many of us won't join unless we get a personal, gold-plated invitation from the pastor---preferably he would take us out to breakfast. Pastors try to do that as much as possible, but a man is only one man.
This past Sunday I did something rare while sitting in the pew: I prayed for the church while we were singing the hymns. I prayed for the youth group when they got on stage to be commissioned. And I prayed for the young man who gave the sermon. The effect it had on me---quite apart from any effect it had in the heavenlies and on the objects of my prayer---was to make these people and concerns "my own."
I think that's the ticket. To overcome the sin of not caring about people or things unless I am in the center and limelight and feel that they have something to do with me, I will make them have something to do with me by drawing them into my heart with prayer. At the same time I am praying for humility and a lowly spirit to deal with the deeper issues.
To hear commentaries by Andrée Seu, click here.