Over the years, one of the lessons that the people of Africa have taught me on my mission trips is "interaction before transaction." I have watched them in the market place, in the shops, out in the community and they almost always take the time to ask about you and create a connection with you before starting to do business with you. I have worked to make sure this principle is at work in my life, but I often struggle with it. I get focused on a task and stops and starts are hard for me. In the grocery store, at the bank, selling jewelry at an art festival, wherever I am, I constantly have to remind myself, "slow down and SEE the people... love them... be a blessing to them."
But today I want to tell you about a man who lived this principle maybe better than anyone I've ever known... I am sad to say I am writing this as a tribute to him as he went home to be with Jesus last Tuesday. He was the father of one of our son's closet friends... we spent time with him at many wrestling events and he was our dentist. And the thing that struck me about Dr. W. in every area of life that we interacted with him was that he always, ALWAYS had time for people. He always took time to be interested in our lives, to encourage us, to have conversations of substance about faith, family, parenting, etc.
I knew when I scheduled a dentist appointment to schedule plenty of time to sit and talk with him. He didn't just provide excellent care for our teeth, he also took time to minister to our hearts. He was more concerned with interaction than transaction. He listened if there was a struggle to share, he encouraged if he sensed discouragement, he opened the door to tough and challenging conversations and he was always ready to offer wisdom about a variety of topics, if asked. And most of all, he was a great friend and mentor to our son. He always had time for the boys whenever they stopped by, either at his office or at his home.
And most of all, he always made sure we knew we were appreciated... Whenever I went to the dentist, or took one of our children to see him, I never left without a big bear hug and his saying, "I appreciate you. I appreciate your family." And I heard that same story from many others too. We all loved Dr. W. We will all miss him... he touched our hearts and left an imprint that won't be forgotten.
So take time this week to remember to really see people... love them... don't just think about how much you appreciate them, tell them... And if you would, say a prayer for his sweet wife and their 3 sons. I can't imagine the hole his departure left in their lives.
Have a great week!