‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Matthew 22:39 NIV
In The Fine Art of Friendship Ted Engstrom outlines ten ways to love others: (1) Love is unconditional. If it’s not… it’s manipulation. (2) Our natural tendency is toward self-centredness (which isn’t related to a healthy self-esteem); that’s why it takes a conscious effort to love. (3) Each of us is a one-of-a-kind creation. Therefore it takes time—often a long time—to understand one another. (4) Do you really listen and try to understand what people are saying? Or do you listen in order to give an answer; in other words, by letting the other person talk while you mentally formulate your response? One who loves, listens with understanding. (5) Simply being there to care, whether or not you know exactly what to do. Loving your neighbour involves fulfilling, in a visible way, Christ’s promise, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV) (6) Just because God put you in a leadership position doesn’t mean He made you ‘better’ than others. Paul warns the leader ‘not to think of himself more highly than he ought to.’ (Romans 12:3 NKJV) (7) Be generous with your praise and encouragement. Inspiring words build up the self-esteem of others, whereas critical comments kill enthusiasm and love. (8) Make your friends number one: ‘In honour preferring one another.’ (Romans 12:10 KJV) This is another point where we see a clear difference between the leader who loves, and a power-holder who ‘looks out for number one’. (9) Learn to love God with all your heart. Then love your neighbour as yourself. (10) Emphasise other people’s strengths and virtues, not their sins and weaknesses. Why? Because you’ll be needing grace and love yourself before the day’s done!