Refining Life, on Purpose

The Law of Personal Connection Can Change the World – Including You!

Personal Connections Make People Matter

There is not enough that can be said about the importance the personal connection you have with others. Imagine a life where you know absolutely nobody or one where nobody will acknowledge you, let alone talk to you. Of course, for a moment at least, that would seem pretty nice to many of us. But I doubt that’s a sustainable feeling.

In a lot of ways, that’s the story from John 4, when Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well. It was that way because Jews were not supposed to talk to Samaritans. Also, men could not address women without their husbands present, and rabbis would not risk reputation damage by being associated with her.

In this story (read more about the woman at the well here), we are privy to a private interaction between Jesus and a nameless and pretty much faceless person of the crowd. Jesus focused on her, saw her as an individual, and teaches us about connection to this very day.

Make a Personal Connection on Common Ground

A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.) – John 4:7-8 (MSG)

In this connection, Jesus is foregoing all the so-called rules by talking to the woman. Surely, she was taken aback, so she protested. In verse 9, she says: “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” (NLT).

The water was a common and familiar interest that Jesus used to initiate contact. Through the rest of the conversation, he allowed her to speak and he listened. He accepted her for who she was without condemning her, stuck to key issues and communicated both directly and in simple terms. These are all things that are pointed out in the Maxwell Leadership Bible and make up much of “The Law of Connection” as described by Maxwell in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You.

It all started, though, with a willingness to speak… to start the conversation.

There is More than One Connection to Make in an Airport

I had to fly for a trip I made shortly before writing this post. The flights included layovers, which meant I was spending some time in airports. As I thought more about this topic, and specifically about seeing individuals rather than crowds, I put myself to a test.

Instead of looking at the actions and behaviors of the people around me, I connected with them. This is a tough task for me, as I have an introverted and judgmental tendency to have internal opinions about everyone and everything.

Personal Connections Make People Matter

We’ve all been the nameless and faceless member of the crowd. We may be longing for others to know “our story” but doubt it will ever happen. When we start that personal connection, we give the nameless a name and the faceless a face. We make them matter.

The “Stories” of Those Connections…

There was a gal I will call “Linda.” She was appearing very nervous. Instead of stereotyping her as a chronic worrier, I listened to her story. She was well into her thirties and had never flown before. She was meeting her fiance at his dying mother’s home. He was coming in from another state and she had never before met the mother, who wanted to do so as one of her final experiences.

I began trying to see the faces as God might – as “my child” rather than a stranger to be judged. I saw someone I called “Bennie.” He was carelessly swinging his arms and bags as he listened to his headphones and wandered around the gate. His team, I told myself, had just lost in the NCAA basketball tournament (I saw several players making that journey) and, if he were my son, I would want to be there for him in that disappointing time.

I saw someone I will call “Erica”. She was frantically talking on her phone and power walking up and down the concourse looking at departure times. Instead of calling her unprepared and disorganized, I told myself her son was traveling alone for the first time and he might have gone to the wrong concourse. Not only did I want to help calm “my daughter” but I also worry about “my grandson.”  

Such personal applications to complete strangers — just as Mother Teresa saw the individuals within the crowds — changes so much about how you connect. It’s amazing how the context you create can alter the way your inner self manifests.

And When Your Connection Starts Rough or Gets Tested…

Finally, there is someone we’ll name “Jules.” She was clearly discouraged about something. I could tell as she tossed her bag in the overhead and sat in the window seat next to me.

I didn’t have to consider or even ask her story. She told me point-blank. She was visiting her sister, lost her phone in the woods and was so out of sorts, she couldn’t even remember what day of the week it was. To top it off, though I cannot smell too many things (long story), I could tell she had overdone the perfume because my sinuses were already settling their defenses as we prepared for the several hour flight!

I sat there, listening to her as I began worrying that allergy prompted rhinitis would be going overtime for the next several hours and I had no tissues to be had. Finally, I did the only thing I could…

I asked her if she wanted to borrow my phone to call someone when we land.

She declined, but was grateful nonetheless.

About Chad Gramling

Chad Gramling makes his home in Indiana with his wife and three daughters. He’s the founder and primary blogger at 1Glories, a vision cast onto his heart and detailed in Listen Up Kids: Foolish Dreams, Syncing with God & Running to Win.