One of the most rewarding aspects of life can be the connections we have with other people. “I know a guy…” is one way of describing these relationships. You and I may know a lot of men and women whose character and capabilities we admire. The longer we live, the more of these folks we know. At first glance they seem ordinary, but when we know them a little better, we realize how they might offer value to others because of some special trait, experience or expertise. When we refer to them in a conversation, we’re adding our recommendation and assurance that this person might be helpful. The sub-text of “I know a guy…” is straightforward: You have my word—this is someone who can help you, someone you can trust.
Let me give you a recent example. An English language student at our church asked me if I knew someone who could give piano lessons to a young immigrant boy. I started thinking about who might be helpful. “I know a guy…” came to mind as the student and I immediately shared her question with another ESL teacher—a man who’s connected to local high school music teachers. I also remembered that our former neighbor teaches composing at a nearby college. In a subsequent conversation he set in motion some further explorations for this rare volunteer piano teacher. The process isn’t finished yet—the ripples of this quest will continue for awhile—but the experience illustrates how this relational search engine is gathering helpful possibilities quickly and assuredly.
At this stage in life, it can be a rare and wonderful pleasure to hook folks together so that some good occurs. Capacities meet needs; rare problems turn out to be commonplace and easily solved. Assets get combined in new ways and fresh personal relationships are forged—my guy becomes your guy, too! Our personal power increases because we’ve helped make something new!
To keep our recommendations fresh, accurate and specific, we can hold tightly to the folks we already know—family members, former customers or colleagues. People in our churches, neighbors, friends. We remember them in prayer, keeping track of their current situations, staying in personal contact with them—via social media, phone or personal correspondence. Spending quality time together.
It can be fun to expand the circle of people we admire deeply. Think of all the places where we could get to know new-and-interesting folks! (My favorite situation right now: The people in the older adult exercise class my spouse and I are part of!) In appreciative conversations over time, you and I come to value additional people for their finest qualities. We discover more and more good in more and more individuals, our faith in humankind increases and sooner or later, we add some of these folks to the people we know.
As we make good use of our personal connections, it’s good to remember that we are known and admired by others, too. When they say “I know a guy…” they might be talking about us! Our finest traits might just be useful in places and ways we’ve never imagined, as others see what’s good in us and invite us into their connections.
As part of the joy of relationships at this stage in life, we can cherish the women and men we know, always thanking God that people like this are as close as our fond memories and our hopes for a better world.
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