Here's what engagement looks like.
It begins with an openness, a willingness to share. It’s exactly how Simone Weil wrote in Waiting for God. Everyone is waiting to be asked, “How are you doing?” That simple question is the invitation the key to unlocking the heart.
There are tons of communication techniques to choose from, but it all boils down to asking: “How are you doing?”
Asking that question with no hidden agenda. Asking that question because we mean it. Asking that question because we genuinely care about the others’ situation. Asking that question because we have God's heart towards that person in mind and we want to see the other brought into relationship.
Putting aside our own desires and needs for the other is the hallmark of other-centered communication.
It sounds easy to do but the fact is, in Western culture in the present day, it’s about the hardest thing to accomplish. Most of us spend our day totally immersed in our own world, in our own thoughts. We are so focused on our own thoughts that most of the time it doesn’t occur to us to think of others. And when a thought towards another comes, it’s usually self-centered.
Self-centered living, to a large degree, is living out of a place of fear, and that fear leaves no room for others. It leaves no room for genuine sharing. And leaves a person feeling empty and meaningless.
Other-centered people are by far the happiest because they're fulfilled. Remember the old song “People who need people?” And the refrain, “people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” That’s actually very true on a spiritual level.
To be aware of others. To be focused on others. To be engaged with others. That’s living a full life.