A couple I go to church with recently told a story about their interesting experience touring a historic mansion. They set up a tour time but were running late and quickly pulled into the Mansion driveway. Knowing she had just talked with the person they went ahead and walked in the main door. Immediately they noticed the shoes on the ground and slid theirs off leaving them with the rest of the pile. They began walking around the house looking for someone. Suddenly from around the corner they hear "May I help you?" She explained they were here for the tour of the house. The man gave a confusing look before letting them know they were at the wrong house as this was his personal home. The couple aghast at their mistake apologized immediately. The amazing part of the story is that instead of leaving the Mansion, the man offered instead to give them a personal tour of his home. Of course they could not turn down his generosity. They were gifted with a wonderful, genuine tour of a historic mansion, just not the one they expected.
I find this story incredibly inspiring! The man could have very easily escorted them out but instead welcomed them in and generously gave of what he had. Mistakes are often wonderful learning opportunities if we allow them to be. It really comes down to whether we welcome the opportunity before us whether that's from our own mess ups or someone else's. Welcoming is something everyone can achieve without a cost. Welcoming is about showing genuine positive regard to others while creating a safe environment. I know for some church has not been a welcoming place. In contrast it's been the opposite which has produced anger, shame, and many other emotions. Today let's examine how we can welcome mistakes as opportunities, identify what welcoming others is, and how we can become a "living welcome."
Carol S. Dweck wrote a book called, "Mindset: The New Pathology of Success." In the book Dweck writes about the difference between "fixed mindset" and "growth mindset." Fixed mindset is when you believe your skills and abilities are unalterable. In other words people believe their current talent, intelligence, or ability is what makes them successful. On the other hand growth mindset is when people have an underlying belief that they can develop their skills through hard work, strategy, and learning. Research indicates those using growth mindset achieve more. To learn more about growth mindset click here. A major part of growth mindset is praising effort and hard work not intelligence or ability. I think this practice is helpful for parenting, mentoring, or cultivating leaders. The most important thing to realize is we all have various traits we feel are fixed. That's ok, but for growth to happen we have to acknowledge what those are. We have to welcome our own inabilities, misconceptions, and mistakes. In doing so we truly begin moving into who we want to be.
What is Welcoming?
Welcome is a verb which means it is action oriented. The definition of the word is: "To greet someone in a glad, polite, or friendly way". In other words we show joy in our interactions with others. However I think welcoming goes beyond this. Such as setting aside our preconceived notions and putting ourselves in this persons shoes. Asking questions helps me identify how to welcome someone. What knowledge do I have that might be helpful for this person in this environment? What is my face and body showing? How will what I am doing or saying make them feel? What cultural background is this person coming from? Am I accepting all of this person for who they are? Welcoming others consists of all of this and much more. I encourage you to continue reflect on how you welcome others in passing, in your home, or at your church.
So how do we become a "living welcome?" It seems we first have to move ourselves, our positions, our church, etc. out of the way. Welcoming is not about beliefs or practices. It's about meeting people where they are at and becoming genuinely interested in them. This article "9 Principles That Will Make You Treat People Better" by Lolly Daskal really lays out what we can do. I like in particularly how we must remember everyone has a story. It is in the stories of life where we find understanding and appreciation of one another. I also love how she states we do not meet people by accident. When we see interactions in this light they are opportunities waiting to happen. If we allow these principles to be infused into our lives than we can truly become a living welcome.
And let's end today with "Moana's You're Welcome" not because of Maui's attitude just because I love the song.
I so appreciate all of you following along. What does becoming a "Living Welcome" mean to you? This week examine what changes you need to make to be more welcoming!
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.