While yesterday’s post on the passing of Harry Pickup Jr. didn’t quite “go viral,” it did receive the most single day views of any new post in over a year.
The post was shared several hundred times on facebook, received many comments and compliments, but most of all engendered numerous stories and observations that people shared about our beloved brother.
One of the best was posted by my friend John Shirley. “After generations of misapplication, “larger than life” is a pretty tread-bare description. But I think it applies to Harry.”
John then relates this memory.
“He stayed in my home when I was a teenager — a time frame which says a lot about how vivid the memory must be — and he always treated me like a “grown-up”. Which I wasn’t, by any measure, even remotely. He looked me in the eye, listened — hard — and stayed engaged in the conversation. I always wondered how anybody could smile that genuinely, that often.”
“The answer is he loved life, he loved the people in it, and he loved what he was doing with them,” John observed. ” A little rare these days, perhaps.”
“He will be missed. Greatly.”
John Shirley’s comments about Bro. Pickup are “spot on.” He was the consummate people person. But, as I reflected on those qualities that do seem “rare these days” I thought of some people principles I observed in Harry’s life, that we can all work to apply to improve our relationships.
Here are 7 suggestions for building better relationships.
1. Take the focus off of Yourself
People who are self focused are rarely successful in building positive, lasting relationships. It is true in our homes. Churches. And social relationships. The wise man advised, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” A good way to begin is to listen. Really listen.
2. Care about others.
It is almost a proverb that “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Paul’s admonition is appropriate. “So that there may be no division in the body, the members must have the same care for one another.” When we care we rejoice in others successes and weep when they hurt (Rom 12:15).
3. Don’t underestimate anyone’s value.
Look who God used. Moses who was a fugitive from justice. David a shepherd boy. Esther a Jew in exile. And consider the people who came to Jesus. Matthew the despised tax collector. Peter the common fisherman. And women who had no social standing in that society.
Remember that everyone has worth. Value. Dignity. Even an immature Tennessee teenage boy.
4. Build up other people.
The world is full of critics, political pundits and consumer advocates whose job is to criticize. What folks yearn for is a kind word. Encouragement. A smile. A pat on the back. “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification,” penned Paul.
5. Be cheerful.
No one likes a sourpuss. I’m reminded of the quip, “Some folks brighten a room just by entering. Others by leaving!” Be the former. Not the latter. The wise man was right, “a joyful heart makes a cheerful face…” Yes, smile. Often. And genuinely.
6. Be credible.
Few things damage a friendship or fellowship more than breaking trust. When a person is inconsistent, unreliable, and untrustworthy, relationships are harmed, if not severed. Be honest. Honorable. Truthful. (Eph 4:25)
7. Practice the Golden Rule.
Jesus’ said, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you…” (Matt 7:12). This principle is profound beyond explanation. Lectures have been given, books written and sermons preached on this simple statement. When in doubt, just practice the golden rule, and you can’t go wrong.
These principles, if you think about it, were foundational to Harry Pickup’s love of life and love of people. And, yes, he was a rare man.
But you and I can still apply these qualities to our lives. We can do more. Be more. Grow greater. And build better relationships.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman