Let’s be honest. We live in a crazy and disconnected world. It’s a world where money trumps everything. There’s something messed up about it. Something not quite right. Our need for relationships is broken! People don’t matter! Community is irrelevant! We need finances to live a certain quality of life. But when we sabotage people because of the pursuit of the bottom line, we’re sabotaging everything. So what if we took a different approach? What if we put our relationships ahead of money? What if we invested in our greatest resource, the people around us?
For me the investment in people took an international perspective over 6 years ago when I traveled to Ethiopia with a vision team and got connected with a young man named Alula Yohannes. We had met briefly on a previous trip, but there was something about him that drew me to him. Perhaps it was his sweet, gentle and servant heart. Or perhaps it was his desire to go for it when it came to business and his relationship with Jesus. In any case, we became deep friends. We became brothers. I (and my family) wanted to help him succeed in any way that I could. Today Alula is an ever increasingly successful entrepreneur and business man. I don’t have any credit in his success. What I am proud of is that I saw someone that I wanted to be in a lifelong friendship with. Someone in whom I was proud to call my brother and friend.
Here are 3 things that I’ve learned in my friendship with Alula.
1. People need strong friendships more than money.
When we met Alula, he wanted to help us in his city, Addis Ababa. He wanted to introduce us to people that mattered to him. He never asked for anything for himself during our 8 days in the country. And, because of his heart, when he did show me his vision for a new business idea, I was eager to help.
2. People connect people.
Without people we would be isolated and alone. Without people we wouldn’t get very far in life. In my faith journey I have come to 100% believe that we were never, ever created to be alone. Our relationships with others inspire us to try something new. To be more daring. To be more tender. Loving. Kind. Generous. Our relationships with others create other relationships. Because of Alula, I have made new friendships that will also be lifelong. People with whom I have learned many, many things that have made me a better man, husband, father and…friend.
3. People will push us off the island.
I lean towards being an introvert. I like being alone. I like my quiet times. But if I stayed in those times, I would never meet people like Alula. If I allowed myself to stay on my little Ken Island, I would never have traveled half way around the world and met someone as dear and close to me, like Alula. My life would not be as full or complete. If I would have listened to Simon & Garfunkel, I would never grown deeper in love with the country of Ethiopia.
So. Here’s the deal. What will you do today to make a new friendship? What will you sacrifice in order to make sure that people matter more than your bottom line? At the end of your life what do you want to be known for? How much money you had, or how many people’s lives you impacted?