Chaplain's thought for the week
Revd Tom considers the value of connecting with others
Our theme in the Junior School this week is the value of connecting with other people for our wellbeing. I considered the different sets of relationships we see in the life of Jesus: a group of twelves disciples; a set of three close friends within that group (Peter, James and John); friendships with others outside the disciples (for example, Lazarus, Mary and Martha).
It seems intuitive that connection with other people is essential for our wellbeing, but why is this the case? I suggest two reasons in particular. First, the feeling that we are understood is vitally important for us as human beings. We need to feel that we are not alone. Although no-one can understand us fully, knowing that others are reaching out to us in empathy makes us feel valued. Second, connecting with others is good for our wellbeing because it means that we don’t only care about ourselves. Paradoxically, this is essential for our happiness. If we are too wrapped up in our own needs and concerns, and have no empathy for others, we will feel very unhappy indeed. In order to discover happiness, we need to seek the good of others.
One of the primary ways of connecting with others then is by listening to them. Last week, Mrs. Fairweather (our Pastoral Deputy Head in the Senior School) and I ran a session for the Lower Sixth on looking after the wellbeing of others. Our major focus was on listening. I reminded our pupils that becoming a good listener will take them far in life because it will make them far more likeable. Why? It’s because when we meet someone who is willing to listen to us, we sense that they are trying to understand who we are, and we tend to like people who are genuinely interested in us. A good listener will make us feel valued, important and cared for.
I find it interesting that when Jesus met others with an obvious human need (for example, those with leprosy or who were blind), he often asked them a question: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ You’d have thought it was obvious! But in asking the question Jesus shows that he valued the person, not just the problem. He was willing to listen to the person, and didn’t rush just to fix a problem. Can we do the same?