Take out a sheet of paper. Any size will do just fine. Draw yourself, a stick figure works for me, in the middle of the paper. Then draw a large circle around the outside of the paper, with “you” standing in the middle. Ok, it may look more like an oval than a circle, but it still works.Imagine that the circle represents an area, either real or symbolic, around us. It may function like a “sphere of influence” does in geography or economics.
What do people experience when they step into this zone? Write down a few of the first thoughts that come to mind. Think of those who work with you. As they come and go across this artificial border, what is the effect? As you look out toward the edge of influence, what is your focus on those in range?
I listened to one of my students share the other day about his teenage days. At a small church in the plains of the United States, he lived a troubled life until he came into the “circle” of two adult volunteers who ran the church’s youth ministry. He describe the experience as “being engulfed by love” and the nurture and mentoring he received changed his life.
Some of us look out at the edge and treat it as a wall of mirrors with each reflecting images of our work or leadership back. We see the people, but we see them in relation to, or adoration of…. us. We are hyper-conscious of their opinion of us and how many are inside the circle. We want to nurture to make sure we have a sphere of influence rather than nurture the nurturing aspect.
I’d like to suggest that you call it your “circle of generosity” – that those who step inside your sphere of influence will experience a counter-cultural level of giving, warmth, and enthusiasm. You can be generous with your attention, your kindness, and even your resources. We are drawn to such people and wonder how they do it. It’s not magical, though for some it seems natural. It’s an intentional focus, an awareness of the person first, and then followed by a generous response.
So, look back at your list. How can you be generous to them this week? Jot down one or two ways and then give them a try – and let us know how it went.