Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

Be That Somebody Part 4: Make it personal

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From Jeremy: This is part 4 of a series called “Be That Somebody.” Many of us wait for somebody else in this world to show up to fix the problems that we see. But wouldn’t it be better if we chose to be that somebody? All we need to do is decide and then begin. I hope this series help you make that choice. Don’t forget to read parts one, two, and three.

One of the most important steps we can take to becoming that somebody is to learn to find the value in every single individual. We do this by making their problem our problem.

Today, we make it personal.

photo by Riccardo Romano (Creative Commons)

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When we see the problems in the world, we are so accustomed to them, that they do nothing to move us. Life is life. It’s like the sky or the green grass. We barely notice because the problems are everywhere.

When we do notice, we shrug it off, wondering how we could actually do anything to change it. The problem is too great. The problem is too far away. The problem is too common.

We place all of these atrocities that we know to be problems but feel we can’t do anything about, into groups. We put people into categories.

But when we categorize a person, we do something worse to them than their problem has done. We strip them of their humanity.

  • The Homeless.
  • The Sick.
  • The Orphaned.
  • The Poor.
  • The Widowed.
  • The Unreached.
  • The Elderly.
  • The Insane.

These are not people. They are issues. But there are people who are dealing with these issues.

What Really Matters

We do this to insulate ourselves from the person. To avoid staring an individual in the eyes and telling them that we won’t help them.

When was the last time you took your kids to a pet store? You don’t. Why? The concept of homeless cats is easy to ignore, but once your children see how cute and cuddly they are in person, you will be buying one. How can you say no?

It works the same with people. It is much easier to shrug off a category than it is a person.

A catastrophe is easier to think about than a person who is devastated by losing their home. A socio-economic problem is easier for us to swallow, than someone who is starving despite the fact that we are surrounded by food. Someone’s parental circumstance is easier to consider than a child who is unwanted or unloved.

The somebodies of this world who have chosen to make a difference are the ones that stopped seeing problems and started seeing the people who are affected by the problems. They are the ones who broke through categories so that they could love.

Mother Teresa put it this way

I feel called to help individuals, to love each human being. I never think in terms of crowds in general but in terms of persons. Were I to think about crowds, I would never begin anything. It is the person that matters. I believe in person-to-person encounters.

Step 4: Make it Personal

Your homework assignment is to do just this. Stop looking at the world through categories and start seeing people who need your help.

I bet right now you are wondering how you could do this since you don’t come across those in need often. There it is again. You have already placed all of these people in a box.

Chances are many have needs but you don’t even realize it. At some point today you will bump into a person and will be tempted to categorize them. Don’t. Instead start a conversation. Ask them questions. Find who they are and what they are dealing with in their life.

Search for their humanity. And then offer to help.

When we let go of our categories and start to see the individual behind the problems, we are moved to start doing what it takes to help them.

Have you ever made it personal? What did you do and how did it change your perspective on a problem?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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10 Replies

  1. Patricia

    I must agree that helping one person at a time is the best way. Maybe one person is all that I can help today or even this week. But I can help one person as often as possible for me. So many have helped me along the way. Passing along the help is something vital to all of us.

  2. I have to think both are important, as sometimes ministering to a large crowd of people can lead to individuals helping individuals and sometimes it is difficult to help individuals without helping a whole community.

  3. I wouldn’t disagree, but I think we often let ourselves become numb to a problem by generalizing it.

  4. I love this application of it. Not only are our hearts moved, but we realize we can do something if we break down into such a small segment.

  5. So good. Face to face help is the most influential and impacting. You got it right here Jeremy. Great article. Thanks Jeremy.

  6. Jeremy, awesome post! It reminds me of Andy Stanley’s “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone” mantra.

  7. I’ve heard him give that talk. it’s really good. I didn’t have it specifically in mind, but he sums this up better than me.

  8. One of my favorite Andy Stanley quotes,

    “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.”

    A great reminder Jeremy.

  9. I’ve Andy do that talk. It’s very good. Both the concept and how he illustrates it. For anyone interested you can hear a copy of it by purchasing the DVD’s to Catalyst West from April 2012.

    http://store.catalystspace.com/catalyst-west-2012-experience-kit/

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