A couple of weeks ago I was meeting with a group of pastors and I was challenged by a few questions that were posed by the leader of the discussion.
We were talking about character and humility, and he asked the following:
What do other people experience when they are confronted by your presence?
As you enter a room, what message does your attitude or demeanor speak to those you encounter?
Are you a “Here I am” or a “There you are” type of person?
When you encounter someone, does your behavior and mind-set say “Here I am,” or does it say “There you are”?
“Here I am” type people are those who are clearly and unmistakably focused on themselves. When they enter a room or when you attempt to engage them in conversation, they often appear or come off absent. Even if they are looking toward you, it often feels like they are looking beyond you. They are quickly distracted by other people, technology, or something that is just far more interesting than me or you. It is hard to nail them down. Any level of personal conversation seems to be a means to an end. They are quick to turn every instance of dialogue into a story about themselves, what they have done, where they have visited, or who they have met. They enjoy name-dropping, but have also been known to place-drop, brand-drop, or knowledge-drop. It doesn’t take long for you to realize that when they walked into the room they clearly (though often subconsciously) announced “Here I am.”
“There you are” people are the opposite. When they walk into the room they quickly observe the dynamics of those present. They often exhibit a sense of responsibility for people around them, wanting to make sure that people feel comfortable, at ease, or pleasant in their surroundings. It is easy to let your guard down around “there you are” people, because they don’t have guards up themselves. When you’re describing “there you are” people you use words or phrases like “real,” “authentic,” “transparent,” “easy-going,” “down-to-earth,” or “disarming.” They are easy to talk to because they look you in the eye, they are fully present, and they aren’t easily distracted by something or someone that appears “more interesting” than you. Why? Because they operate on a value system (again perhaps subconsciously) that assigns image-of-God significance to those they encounter. A “there you are” person fills other people’s emotional tanks through their Philippians 2:3-4 habits.
The difference between these two types of people is as simple as self-centeredness vs. humility. A “Here I am” person esteems themselves over others, while a “There you are” person operates with humility.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.