“Familiarity breeds contempt”. I have always thought that this is a harsh saying. Contempt is a strong word. However, I have also found that there is a lot of truth in this. At the very least, familiarity often leads us to take things for granted. At the very worst, we can ignore or become blind to the things that are right in front of us. It seems like the more we know something, the more we find faults and dislike things about it. Familiarity can stop us from respecting people, and simply dismiss them or their opinions. The Bible has an amazing story to tell on this topic.
Mark 6:1-6 says:
Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
We can just as easily fall into the same trap. It is all too easy to become a judge of the Sunday morning service, or the Church, or our College, or to show a lack of respect for those in authority. This lack of respect can easily grow into criticism and even ridicule. We can miss the beauty of the things around us, or the value that they really have. It is interesting to note that when the people of Nazareth allowed their familiarity with Jesus to breed contempt, they lost out and deprived themselves of a great opportunity. The result was that Jesus chose to take His message and His blessings elsewhere!
So what can we do to prevent this from happening?
Give honour to one another
Sometimes we are not very good at giving honour. Even if it is difficult to honour the person, it is always possible to honour the position.
Appreciate what we have
We are amazingly rich in this country and have fantastic opportunities, educationally, economically, socially, and politically. We are in the top 5% of the wealthiest people in the world, just by living in this country. In biblical times, when the rich are referred to, we must remind ourselves that we are those people. The freedom that we enjoy is amazing.
Matt 13;44-46 reminds us:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
We have a pearl of great price. Do we treasure it? Is it a privilege to be the adopted sons and daughters of the King of Kings? When I write this article, is it a chore, or an opportunity to plant a seed for the kingdom. A lot depends on my attitude and how I look at things.
How often do we thank our parents for provision, for the boundaries they put around us, for loving us unconditionally, and for praying for us? Thinking back, I am not sure that I did a lot of this. I took it for granted. How often did I express my feelings and show appreciation, or did I just expect that they knew it in some way? There will come a day when you will no longer be able to do this. And how often do I thank God for the simple things? God is present in all the details of life. He is not just there for the crises. Or do I take each new day, every sunrise or blue sky, my friends and family, my health, or my work and colleagues for granted?
Be quick to apologise when we get it wrong
We are all human, fallible and make mistakes. So why is it so difficult to apologise when we do. As teachers (and parents), we often fall into the trap of being the expert and having all the answers. The truth is that we do our best, but we do get things wrong. Will we lose faith in someone if they get something wrong? Or will we in fact grow in our respect for them if they take responsibility and admit their mistakes? Imagine if politicians acted in this way. We often grow by reflecting on what has gone wrong, and learn to do things in a better way. Isn’t this a way that we learn?
I am blessed to work at Rehoboth Christian College, and to work with a dedicated Staff who strive to do their best for the students. Our students are also amazing. Yes, they are works in progress, but aren’t we all. Students continually surprise me, and I have been doing this for a while. The parents I work with are patient, committed and caring people who want the best for their children. They want the school to be the best that it can be – so do I. I love the fact that we get to work with each other in partnership. We are growing and developing each year and are on a path of continual improvement. Every year, we are planning new things, looking at ways that we can add to our programs, and are excited about the future. At the same time, our purpose is not about size, nor programs nor reputation. It is to make Jesus famous in everything that we do.