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Pastor’s Note


Being “People People”

I sat in Staff Meeting this week and alternated between crying and laughing. We were sharing memories of working with Nancy McCreight during her last meeting before retiring to South Carolina to be with her parents. Several staff members talked about how much they would miss Nancy—her personal interest, her listening ear, her voluminous laugh just when you need it.

It was a beautiful conversation, and I was glad to be proved right! Late last year I sat with Nancy in my office and told her how much she would be missed here when she left because of how well she loved people. “No, no, no … that’s not true,” she said, “I’m so task-oriented; I don’t think I love people well at all.” It’s been a joy since then to hear one person after another tell her how well she has valued and loved them.

And it’s reminded me of the importance of valuing people—of being a “people person.” It’s an absolutely vital part of being a person (or church) who reflects God’s priorities. I’m not referring at all to whether you’re task-oriented or people-oriented, extroverted or introverted. Regardless of your personality, you must value and love people. Nancy has apparently taken a “task-oriented” personality and combined it with a heart that treasures people so that they feel her love. She has listened, she has sacrificed, she has called, she has visited. All of the tasks she has done have been driven by a high value on the people in her life—making her, in my opinion, a “people person.”

This is the way God values people, too. God has always cherished the people he created with inherent value because he created them in his image. And then he showed his love for them particularly in his actions—“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,” “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son.” Loving us was costly. It required intentionality. It required sacrifice. It required action. That’s what it means for God to love people.

As we have discussed recently, God has given us as his people the privilege of joining him in his mission—a mission that values and loves people deeply. The Bible calls us to love the poor, the lost, our spouses, our children, our parents, our neighbors, and many more. If we are on God’s mission, we are by definition—even if not by personality—“people people.” Southwood reflects God’s heart when we welcome a guest, play with a child in the nursery, listen to a friend who is struggling, or send someone a note of encouragement. In God’s kingdom, people are valuable—all kinds of people in need of all kinds of help.

It’s fitting that after 22 years (she is our longest-serving current staff member), Nancy is leaving Southwood to care for other people she values—namely, her parents. It may be a task, but it’s one that’s important to her because of the people behind the task, whom she loves deeply.

Sometimes the people we most fail to love by our actions are those closest to us, the ones to whom we say “I love you” every time we hang up the phone but to whom we often forget to demonstrate the reality of that love. Who needs to experience your love today? Who could feel the value God has for them through your time, your sacrifice, or your gift? You’d be a lot like Nancy and a lot like her Heavenly Father, too.