Likes and dislikes

> If “no man is an island” (John Donne) why are we so insular? I often hear people report back from their holidays on friends they made while away. “We had so much in common” and “we all had similar backgrounds/jobs”. I wonder if we like the people who are most like us.

I’ve enjoyed the work of many people who have highlighted the many different styles of personality and behaviours we have. This is how we have been made. Some of us are built for a quick sprint, others for the long haul. We are individuals who need to like those who aren’t quite like us. Practical people lose patience with visionaries. Visionaries may regard the practical people as a bit boring – but both need each other. Those who can crack the whip can move people forward but may be seen as insensitive by those who are conscious of the feelings of others. To get anything done we all need to work together and talk together.

This is not a new insight. God from the beginning of time said “it is not good for man to be alone”. The stories of Cain and Abel, and the Tower of Babylon are both examples of how difficult it is to come to terms with our differences. Centuries later St Paul was shocked by the divisions in the Corinthian Church. Members had taken sides liking those who were like them. Paul calls them to order encouraging them to think that they were members of one body and that they needed to get co-ordinated. Every part of the body has a different function – fingers, bowels and eyes. Each member is gifted differently and we need to learn to like what we’re not like – otherwise we can’t live together or work together for a better world.

Paul’s is a good lesson (as is Belbin, Myers-Briggs and all those working on similar lines) for the Lambeth Conference (coming soon), and any group of people. Paul insists that it is all possible if we have a mind on the bigger picture and allow God to do the knitting.

written for Grapevine June 2008

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