Surely you have heard the old saying that “you are never a prophet in your own town.”
A prophet from a biblical perspective is a person who speaks divinely and for God. I’m not writing from this perspective today, but more from another definition “a person regarded as, or claiming to be, an inspired teacher or leader.” This is a more relative perspective for all of us as we can look at this from a big picture standpoint if we are trying to do something significant in the world or marketplace, or we can look at it in a micro perspective as we attempt to influence in our households.
So the big question is…why is this so so true? There are probably as many answers as there are situations, because each personal interaction in life has its unique set of characteristics…and characters! But from a simple perspective, I’ll offer a few things that I think have some universal application on this topic. I think two of the bigger “prophet blockers,” are familiarity and the emotions in the relationship dynamics.
I think two of the bigger “prophet blockers,” are familiarity and the emotions in the relationship dynamics.
In general, in the area in which you live, people are familiar with you. They have seen you in a variety of situations and have formed some aspect of an opinion about who you are. They don’t really know who you are…they just think they do. This limits their perspective about who you COULD be, because they interpret everything about you through the lens of the decision they have already made about who they think you are. This especially true if you are championing a cause in which they haven’t already associated you with and is further affected by the general idea that good things come from somewhere else…not right next door. A ridiculous generalization? YES. True? YES.
They don’t really know who you are…they just think they do.
The relationship dynamics and the emotions involved add an entire layer to the issue. The close relationships have the familiarity issue also, but now its times ten!!! These people KNOW all of your flaws and bad habits. They know your history. They have you in a box that has taken years to form. They have a very difficult time with the idea that you could now be doing something of significance outside of the box they already have you in. Then when you try to teach or tell or inspire them to be a part of whatever you are doing, whether it is a cause, a fitness plan, a business idea, or any type of change you think is for the better….you have the familiarity issue magnified by the emotions of the relationship dynamics. The people close to you will naturally rebel or defend. I don’t need to share any more on this because you are already sitting there nodding your head yes:-)
I don’t need to share any more on this because you are already sitting there nodding your head yes:-)
So what do you do? The answer is simple. You simply be the example. Don’t tell others what they need to do…do it yourself and let them see. You can (and you should if it is worthwhile) tell people what you are doing and invite them to join you, but you need to be prepared to move forward without them. When they express there doubts about what you are doing, let them keep their opinion. Don’t argue or try to defend or try to convince…be respectful and just go about doing what you said you would do…create the change or mission in which you spoke and example it for them.
You can (and you should if it is worthwhile) tell people what you are doing and invite them to join you, but you need to be prepared to move forward without them.
Over time many will come to you, based on what you are doing and the impact it is making either in yourself or in your community, or in the world…depending on what it is, and THEN you will be the prophet. Some will never admit that you were right. That’s okay…you cannot help everyone…you should offer your help to everyone, but you can only help those who want to help themselves. So be patient, and be the example.