Interesting But Not Interested

Fulfill my joy … Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” — Philippians 2:2-4

Connecting with people fills us with joy. The best therapy for our angst and dissatisfaction is giving, receiving, and working out things together. “I hope to visit you and talk to you face to face,” wrote the apostle John, “so that our joy might be complete” (2 John 12).

But connecting with people is more than hanging out and interacting. Author Mike Mason wrote of an incident when he was on a plane, and being in a good mood, struck up a conversation with a young man. The time passed quickly, and they covered a lot of conversational territory. Then he says, “It dawned on me that as much as I enjoyed our conversation, it was not the young man I had enjoyed so much as my own charm and conviviality. I’d been absorbed in being interesting without being truly interested.”1

I hate it when that happens.

Haven’t we all been guilty of being “interesting without being truly interested?” That reduces people to mere reflections of us, our egos, and our interests—rather than us seeing other people as reflections of God and His interests.

“In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself,” the apostle wrote (above).

Wow. Do we really look at others with admiration and esteem, thinking, “You know, in spite of her problems and trials, she is better than me. She handles her lot in life better than I could.”

But what joy we will find—indeed we are promised—if we can take these Scriptures to heart and look at other people with a genuine desire to care for their cares, to see them as God sees them—and as the reason we are still here on this earth.

“There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” —Vincent Van Gogh 2

  1. Mason, Mike, Practicing the Presence of People (Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs, 1999).
  2. Vincent Van Gogh, Irving Stone, Jean Stone, Dear Theo: The Autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh (Plume, 1995) p. 339.