Welcome back to another faith episode. Today we’re going to talk about how to be a lifter so we can increase our influence for good.
- The people who lift others up have a greater influence and ability to make an impact than those who attack.
- To become a lifter we should seek understanding, be open-minded, and give forgiveness and grace.
- When we forgive others, we increase our own capacity for change, while also enabling others to change for the better.
What it Means to Be a Lifter
Some of you have heard me tell the story of a time when a website I managed accidentally published two offensive articles. We had an editorial process in place and a very talented editor who could have fixed those errors, but we didn’t catch it in time.
As a result, many people were offended and very rightfully so. Those articles were offensive and never should have been published. This was a very stressful situation for my team and I to go through. We apologized to as many people as we needed to, to try and fix the mistake as best as we could.
One day, I was in an elevator and there was a man who saw me and was aware of the situation I was going through. He rode with me up the elevator and told me a story. He told me he understood what we were going through and chose to lift me up and encourage me and my team.
In other instances, my team and I had been attacked. But instead of attacking me, the man said he cared about this difficult situation we were going through. He focused on lifting us and there were several other people at that company that did that. They lifted us and I’m so grateful for how they helped me and my team through that process.
While there were many things I learned from this situation, my big takeaway was this man who followed me up the elevator and focused on lifting me. It made me want to be a lifter and since then, I have been trying to figure out how I can be a better lifter. I learned that we should strive to be lifters, not be attackers. As we effectively strive to be lifters, we actually gain more influence.
When someone does something offensive, or makes a mistake like I did, it’s very natural to want to attack that person. That’s human nature and that’s how most people do it. But, when we attack somebody, they get defensive and our ability to influence or change the situation actually decreases. However, if we focus on being a lifter, if we seek to listen, if we seek to understand, if we seek to help, if we seek to be open minded, we can lift the other person and our influence actually increases.
When we are lifters, we can help that person change, help that person see something differently, or hope that person does something differently, like my team and I needed to do. The people who lift others up have a greater influence and ability to make an impact than those who attack.
3 Ways to Be a Lifter
Here are three simple steps on how we can strive to be lifters:
1. Seek Understanding
I love Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I read it in high school and it has greatly influenced my business, career, and my life. One of those seven habits is to seek first to understand before we seek to be understood.
Conversely, when we attack, we often seek to blame and shame. When we do this, we’re not listening. We are not seeking to understand; we’re not seeking to fix or solve any problems. We’re actually making it worse. We are creating conflict and strain between that person and our ability to influence that person or that situation actually decreases.
When we attack and blame, the other person becomes defensive and the learning opportunity will very likely get lost. Instead, we should focus on being a lifter and seek understanding. When we do that, we might discover a new perspective or reason why that mistake happened. A man named Spencer W Kimball once said, “Even if we’ve walked a mile in someone else’s shoes, we still can’t judge them.”
When we attack, we are not showing the person that we care about them. When we seek to understand and listen, we are showing that we care. People don’t care what we know until they know that we care.
The Dalai Lama said, “Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.” And John Locke said, “The improvement of understanding is for two ends: first, our own increase of knowledge; secondly, to enable us to deliver that knowledge to others.”
If we attack others, it makes it very hard for us to deliver our knowledge in an effective way.. When we come at it from understanding, the other person is more likely to listen to that knowledge we want to share. We can only really influence others if we first understand them, and they feel that we understand and care for them.
2. Be Open-Minded
The second way that we can be a lifter is to be open minded. We shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Often, we’re only seeing a small piece of a bigger picture and we don’t really understand what’s going on. Being open minded involves understanding that there may be another side or another perspective that we don’t understand.
George Bernard Shaw said, “Those who can’t change their minds, can’t change anything.”
3. Give Forgiveness and Grace
The third way we can strive to be lifters in our life is to give forgiveness and grace. I love the word grace. That’s one of my favorite words in the entire English language. In Colossians 3:13, it says, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
One of my favorite examples of this is from the Bible when Christ is on the cross and He prays, “Father forgive them for they know not what they’ve done.” Even Christ, who was tortured and killed by these persecutors, sought to give grace. Lewis B. Smedes said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
I recently read a story in Forbes that talks about Nelson Mandela and how, after the apartheid ended and he’d spent 27 years in prison, he forgave his oppressors and encouraged many of his party members to do the same thing. He told them, “Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear that is why it is such a powerful weapon.”
As it reads in Forbes, “In comparison, Robert Mugabe opted for bitterness, vindictiveness and hatred, against white Zimbabweans and the nation’s black citizens who opposed him. By encouraging supporters to forcibly occupy white-owned commercial farms Zimbabwe, once the bread basket of southern Africa… Under his rule, unemployment rose to between 70-80 percent, life expectancy fell.” In 2008, Zimbabwe’s inflation was estimated to reach 6.5 sextillion percent, which made the national currency essentially worthless, and eventually left 200,000 people homeless.
I love how this example contrasts the two leadership styles and how when one leader chose to forgive and move forward, they saw huge growth. It shows how Nelson Mandela let go, forgave, and became a lifter of not just his people, but the entire country. On the other side, it contrasts how when we hold on to that bitterness and anger, it hurts everybody, even the people that we love.
When we forgive others, we increase our own capacity for change, while also enabling others to change for the better. I think Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe both wanted the same thing; they wanted equality. They wanted to be treated fairly. But one of them chose to be a lifter and was able to receive that to a much greater extent than the person who chose to be the attacker.
As we seek understanding, as we have an open mind, as we give forgiveness, we can become lifters and we can increase our ability to influence for good.