At an event, we often seek the “it” person to meet and connect with. We wait for the perfect opportunity to make an impression, always looking to climb to the next rung.

I can replay that scene in my mind over and over again.  Maybe it was a great speaker, a community leader, or an up-and-coming business owner. I’ve done it dozens of times and would likely have taken that approach again.

Even though it almost never produces any fruit.

Thinking back now, I can’t recall a single meaningful relationship that started this way.

So when Pastor Bil shared this thought today, it struck me as one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard.

Be a climber like Jesus. He descended into greatness. He always found someone on a lower rung and served them.

It’s the exact opposite of what most of us do most of the time.

Occasionally, I’ve been able to turn my ego off and not approach a situation “looking to climb.” Instead of zeroing in on a speaker, I focused my attention on getting to know the folks sitting next to me. Or, I noticed someone fumbling with technology and offered to help.

As I think back now, some of my most powerful relationships started at these times. But without this preface, I would have never made the connection.

I think it’s because I get stuck thinking of my faith theologically as opposed to practically. I forget that the best lessons are the ones that we can apply daily. And that the lessons have a dual purpose: serving God and leading us to better lives. There is an element of sacrifice and selflessness, and there’s also nourishing fruit, even if we don’t recognize it in the moment.

Here’s how you can help: if you see me at a conference or meetup, remind me to “climb like Jesus.” Friends don’t let friends focus on the ladder.

(And a special thanks to a few people that have been teaching me this all along with your words and your actions: Chris, Keith, Alene, and Nan. It took me a while, but I think I’ve finally caught on. Thank you for being such great role models.)