Thursday, 5 September 2013



Honoured by Queen ElizabethEach year the Monarch of British Commonwealth selects distinguished people to be added to a presitigious list of emminent persons. There are certain people that stand out in life. These certain people are like warm fires on a cold winter's night. They cause you to smile when you've noticed that they see you. We draw comfort, strength, and encouragement from these people. They are always giving and looking to help. We hold these people in special regard - and just the British Monarch does, we mark them 'on a list' (of sorts). I have a list in my head of nice-to-be-around people whom I have marked. Have you? You may not have received a Knighthood, an OM or an OAM, but have you been marked on someone's list as a nice-to-around person?

An OAM MedalThere are of course people who would be unlikely to be admitted to such a list. These people are prickly, grumpy, hard-to-please, nit-picking. They put you on edge. They argue with you over nothing. They are demanding and difficult to get along with. They tend to burn instead build relationships. We usually mark these people as well - but on a different list!

Life is going to be difficult for the ones who don't make right list. I don't mean the Queen's list of super-achievers, or the Prime Minister's recommended list of notables - I mean those lists that you and I keep of nice-to-be-around people. Of course, we will probably disagree on the finer attributes of what we find appealing in such a person, but I have a hunch that the qualities such people must have to be on our personal nice-to-be-around lists will include-
(i) an ability to add value to us;
(ii) being easy to get along with;
(iii) somewhat uplifting;
(iv) knowing how to say what has to be said in a winsome (pleasant and inoffensive) manner; and,
(v) being generous with their time, treasure and talents.
We not only find these people attractive, we like and value them. We trust them.


An OAM PinDespite the impression that Facebook may give, the average person in their ordinary connections will end up interacting with around 67 people. These include family, close friends, work colleagues, acquaintances, and transactional people such as clerks and sales assistants. The average person is nice to a degree which determines how many of these 67 people want to be more involved with them - which is on average about 6 people. But the marked on a list nice person is on so many nice-to-be-around lists because they have learned how to add value to others. (It is an exceptionally nice person who could be on all 67 people's nice-lists.) The have learned from the following curriculum-
  • Talk humbly of yourself
  • Accept responsibility for your own decisions, actions, and choices
  • Take a genuine interest in others
  • Live consistently by a set of ethical rules
  • Ask for forgiveness when you have wronged someone
  • Be teachable even from those you teach
  • Don't sweat the small stuff
  • Be flexible with the moods of others and adapt accordingly
They have learned this. It sounds nice and tidy when we use the word: "learned". But true learning is never 'tidy' and rarely 'nice'. It's most often difficult, frustrating, painful and tedious. Hmm, isn't it strange that nice people are only produced through experiencing and overcoming such unniceness! Don't be fooled into thinking that the above 'curriculum' is a simple "tick-the-box" exercise. It is neither simple nor is it an event. It is a process that is marked necessarily by more failures than successes (which gives such unnice people like me some hope!). If you ever get to meet a really nice person you will be meeting a somewhat broken person - although this will not be obvious for quite some time.

As I consider our task to represent Christ through our church to a world increasingly cynical about "The Christian Church", I know that I have not beennice enough. I must change. My hard heart must become softer. Since the things that annoy me are the measure of me - that is, I am only as big as the things that annoy me, I must learn to not let so many things in life annoy me. And most importantly, I must learn to take a greater interest in others and have a concern for them - both in this life but especially for their eternal life to come. Thus, if I love people I will seek to draw them to Jesus Christ and the forgiveness He offers leading to eternal life. Perhaps by doing this I may end up being 'listed' on someone's 'People Nice-To-Be-Around List' or The 37° List for short?


People have been keeping nice-lists for a long time. Around 1000BC an Oriental King, known for his wise sayings, advised his readers to 'mark' certain people. He summed up the qualities that I have listed with three words: blameless, upright, peaceful.
Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of peace.

Psalm 37:37
A room filled with nice peopleKing David's statements in Psalm 37:37 about "marking" certain people is where I get the idea of "The 37° List". Blameless in this verse doesn't mean perfect (otherwise no one could be on that list). It does mean that all wrongs committed have been put as right as they can. It stands in contrast to the one who doesn't accept responsibility for their actions and always blames others -  they are not blameless - rather, they are blamefull! And upright indicates that they do what is right as a lifestyle - not merely because they are afraid of getting caught, but because they truly want to do what is right. The future which King David speaks of for the blameless and upright person is not merely stating the obvious. In this context it means a bright future filled with increasing numbers of blessings. And like all good lists of honoured people which have a Patron,The 37° List also has a Patron: Jesus The Christ. He is the Ultimate expression of a blameless, upright, man of peace. 

Maybe you've already found Him to be the One who invites you to come nearer to Him, excites your faculties, inspires your potential, soothes your hurts, and makes you feel cared for?
Not many of us will have the necessary connections to make the Royal List of Honours, but we all have the potential to make The 37° List. Now wouldn't that be nice.


No comments:

Post a Comment