Sometimes people get out of line and I simply must do my part in putting them right back where they belong! Where other people belong is in line ahead of me.
From birth we are naturally self-centered. We want what we want and we want it now! However, that is not God's way. He says that the way to true fulfillment is to put others ahead of yourself.
...in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
To exercise this principle is to exercise faith. God can help create in us a heart like His if we will trust Him on this one. In Matthew chapters five through seven, Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. It is chock-full of wisdom from God. In chapter seven, He gives us what is known as the Golden Rule.
Some have joked that the Golden Rule is "He who has the gold makes the rules." Well, I agree. God owns the gold in every mine. He makes the rules.
So how specifically do we put others first? There are rules of etiquette that have been the conclusions of many people over time. Emily Post and Amy Vanderbilt are authorities on the subject. Understanding the rules of etiquette will give you a good feel for what is tactful and what is not. However, every etiquette tip comes from the Golden Rule. The fact is that once we decide to hold other people's needs higher than our own, the right thing to do becomes obvious to us and we enjoy life in the way God intended. He is the ultimate example of living for others. He gave His only Son for us. I cannot imagine loving someone that much. When we show sacrificial love to others in our feeble, human ways, we bless them as well as ourselves.
There are countless ways to put others first. Here are just a few examples.
Do not call attention to yourself.
Your liberties end where other’s space begins. You are free to swing your fist anywhere up to the place where my nose begins. Being a distraction is rude because you are forcing attention from people who did not choose to give it. There are many levels of this ranging from loud music coming from a car to wearing strong perfume. Other ways of taking someone's attention are cracking knuckles, chewing ice, biting nails, and smacking food at a dinner table. It is distracting because of the sound and because of how crude and out of place it is. A polite person is given attention by someone's own free will. An impolite person demands attention.
Social media is replete with those calling attention to themselves. Does your selfie accomplish a purpose (like showing friends and family your new haircut or that you are on a trip) or do you just want everyone to know how pretty you think you look today? Are you praising God for what He has done for you or do you just want to let everyone know how great you are? A lot of this has to do with motivation so let's be sure to have unselfish reasons for our posts.
Do not take care of private things in public.
This one is closely related to the previous point but takes a disgusting turn. Scratching, cleaning out your nose, and clipping your nails are all things we don't care to witness. Use your private time at home or in a restroom to take care of your bodily needs. Even combing your hair, putting on make-up, tucking in your shirt or adjusting your clothes is "vulgar" to the keen eye of propriety. You shouldn't feel as though the world is your dressing room. Remember to keep private things private.
This is a constant challenge to those on social media. We can feel like the world is our audience as we have the ability to post pictures of whatever is happening in our lives. Do we need to know every detail? If I had a dollar for every time I wanted to comment "TMI"... Potty-training progress and stomach problems are disgusting, embarrassing, and private! We can pray for you just the same if you say "I'm not feeling well."
Do not bring up subjects that are painful or embarrassing to the people present.
Someone who has gone through a painful or embarrassing trial is doing well to even show up and hold themselves together. They need support and time. Leave it to them to bring up the subject when they are ready to discuss it, and it is doubtful that it will be in a group setting, risking a public breakdown. This is an area where you can accidentally (as if you do it purposely sometimes) put your proverbial foot in your mouth. We don't remember that someone just lost a loved one until we make a joke about death, and then trying to make it better only makes it worse. It will inevitably happen, but let's think before we speak. The more we purposely choose our words, the better chance we have of blessing others rather than hurting them.
Choosing our words carefully is even easier on social media than in a verbal conversation because we have a chance to write a post and then think "Is there any way this will hurt someone?" before we post it. A laugh is not worth bringing someone pain.
Do not be nosy about the private lives of others.
In all Christian love, it is none of your business where they were last night or how much money they make. We can show interest in people but it is up to them how much personal information they share, and consider that information confidential unless they give you permission to share it. Money matters, contact information, relationship statuses, pregnancy--these are just a few things that are personal and take care in discussing. Let the owner of that information decide if they want to share it. If they do not then we should respect that. If Person A asks me for Person B's phone number, I ask Person B first if they mind if I give it to Person A. Just because someone shared information with you does not mean you have permission to share it with others. If someone is not involved in a situation, they do not need to know about it. That only gives temptation for them to draw conclusions when they have insufficient information.
We should never share information or photos on social media that would reveal more about a person than they wish to reveal. If there is any doubt, you are always safer to ask their permission first. Using your power to decide for them only shows that you are not a loyal friend and should not be trusted. Also, do not ask about private matters publicly. I saw someone ask recently on social media if a couple decided to take a position which was a change in employment. That was sensitive information and no doubt put the recipient in the position of having to make the decision to remove the comment or to answer before they were ready to make it public knowledge. At the very least, they stole the couple's thunder. There are ways to privately message people if your post might not be for everyone to see.
Do not compliment one person to the exclusion of others.
I see this happen all the time in person and online and usually without the perpetrator even realizing that they are doing more harm than good. "Mr. Sunday School Teacher, you are the godliest man I know." She just hurt her dad, grandfather, pastor, and every other man she knows. "Mrs. Friendsmom, you are the world's best cook!" Well, that rules your mom and grandmother out--you know, those two women who have cooked for you your entire life? "Muffy, your dress is so gorgeous!" Biffy and Tiffy are suddenly self-conscious about their dresses. There are ways to compliment and honor people without making it a slam to everyone else. Your teacher can be ONE of the godliest men you know. Your friend's mom can be a great cook. You can tell Muffy when you are alone with her that you like her dress, or say "Look at all these lovely girls in their beautiful dresses!" Of course, if someone has something obviously new such as a new hairstyle, it is fine to comment on it in a group, but if someone is "the best" at something, be sure it is the one who rightly deserves that title.
Strive to make everyone feel welcome and valued.
You know that "left out" feeling, like when someone tells a private joke without explaining it to those who were not a part of it. I felt completely unimportant when I greeted a graduate at her reception and she ditched me when she saw who was in line behind me and demanded to have her picture made with them. I wanted to say, "Okey dokey then. I see how it is. I'll just disappear now." We should never make someone feel that way.
Do not mention parties or gifts you’ve shared. It is much easier when those invited were all of a group but much more difficult when people were singled out. If the whole class was invited to the party, we can see how they chose who to invite. However, when there are Facebook pictures of your close group of friends going out to dinner together and you were not invited, that's much tougher to take. Mentioning something someone invited you to or gave to you just announces that they did not do the same for others. Everything does not need to be announced.
Think twice before declaring your personal opinion.
You can obviously get into embarrassing situations by saying something negative about someone who overhears it. You should be embarrassed saying something negative about someone else at all, but even saying that you don't like things such as institutions, music groups, songs, and fashions can be hurtful. When you mock something that someone likes, that is easily taken as disregard for their opinion. If your opinion must be stated, acknowledge respect for others' choices if it is not a matter of right and wrong. Developing a habit of saying positive things will help eliminate this problem. It is better to voice what you like than what you do not like.
On the receiving end of unfortunate situations, we need to give grace and try not to be sensitive. Sometimes that is difficult when there is no other way the comment can be taken and someone's true feelings have been revealed. These suggestions are not meant to make us walk on eggshells but to reduce any hurt we might cause one another. A truly gracious spirit toward everyone will eliminate a lot of these problems. If we use our common sense, we can stop committing these common sins.
Being kind is all about showing honor to another person. It is hurtful to let someone know that their feelings are not being considered. A truly considerate person is a delight to be around and it all comes from showing respect to our fellow man.