A while ago I received the following story in an e-mail. Unfortunately I do not know the original author of the story. A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake. They didn’t look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the bag out of the cave with him. As he strolled along the beach he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could.
He thought little about it; until he dropped one of the clay balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful precious stone!
Excited the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure. He found thousands of dollars worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left.
Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he had just thrown it away!
It’s like that with people too. Many times we look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see only the external clay vessel. Many times it doesn’t look like much from the outside. It isn’t always beautiful or sparkling, so we discard it. We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy. But we have not taken the time to find the treasure hidden inside that person.
What a wonderful way to look at people, all people. One thing I have discovered in life is that all people are precious. In fact you have never looked into the eyes of any human being, it doesn’t matter what your impression of that person was, that wasn’t precious in God’s sight.
One of the most important things in life is learning to discover the treasure inside other people. How many valuable treasures that could have richly influenced our lives have we thrown away because we didn’t spend the time to discover their worth? They weren’t rich enough or beautiful enough for our liking and we decided not to make them a part of our lives. How rich could we have been, if we only knew their worth?
Here are a few suggestions on how to bring out the treasure in other people:
1. See them as they CAN be, and not as they are.
John Maxwell teaches the principle that, on a scale of 0 – 10, we should put a ten on every single person’s head. That person will then respond to our estimation of them. If in actual fact the person is only a five he or she will rise to your expectation and behave like a six or maybe a seven.
In other words we should treat every person with all the respect he or she deserves because just the fact that they are alive means God thought they were good enough. If you want to help another person to improve his or her life, treat them as if they already are what they could be in spite of all their past mistakes and wrong decisions.
2. Appreciate other people and what they do.
In his book “How to win friends and influence people”, Dale Carnegie says that the deepest need of every single person in the world is to be accepted and appreciated. If we can remember this important piece of information about people we will be much more effective in dealing with other people. Carnegie says it is the most important law of human relations, and it states “Make people feel important.” Mary Kay Ash confirms this in her book on people management when she says that every person has an invisible tag in front of them that says: “Make me feel important.”
If we obey this important law of human behaviour in our lives we will seldom get into trouble with people. If you apply this principle to your life you will always be abundant in happiness and friendship. If you break this rule, you end up with a lot of relational problems.
3. Treat people as you would like to be treated.
Finally the most important relational rule of all is the golden rule of life. It is written in the Bible in Matthew 7:12 “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” We need to approach all people with the necessary respect and dignity, no matter what there status, appearance or background, in that way we have a chance of discovering their worth and they can enrich our lives. Every single person that you meet is your superior in some way, and in that you can learn from them. Treating people this way is the only way to live life, as far as relationships are concerned, on a higher level.
There is a treasure inside each and every person. If we take the time to get to know that person, and if we ask God to show us that person the way He sees them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth. May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay.