We have all heard the old phrase: “Love people the way you want to be loved.” It is a great way to start children thinking about empathy. Dad says, “Would you want them to do that to you? No? Then you shouldn’t do that to them!” But, this phrase is only a starting point because as we all know we are all different. Especially those of us who are married or have kids, we realize quickly and confusingly, how different we all are. Our needs, thoughts, perspectives, motivations and more are a smorgasbord of responses and we never know which ones are going to pop up. Loving others the way I want to be loved is a very narrow and sometimes selfish posture.
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Years ago I was with a friend and he said, “You’ve heard of the Golden Rule, right? But have you heard of the Platinum Rule?” Internally I rolled my eyes, it sounded a little hokey, but I didn’t want to be rude so I played along, “No, what is the Platinum Rule?” He responded, “The Platinum Rule is loving people the way THEY NEED to be loved.” I don’t remember whatever was said after that because I was stopped in my tracks. Duh! This makes so much sense. It is so simple. So obvious! People don’t need to be loved how I want to be loved, they need to be valued, seen, heard, excepted, understood and invited in ways that make sense to them.
To love people the way they need to be loved invites us into a higher level of intentionality. I have to get outside of my own perspective and see through someone else’s eyes. What are they feeling? What are they excited about or struggling with? What is their goal here? What is their story? Because in each of these questions, my answers to them would most likely be different. And there is nothing worse than thinking we are connected and moving forward together only to find that, while I am feeling great and fulfilled, the other person is feeling hurt and missed.
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Here are a few practical ways to practice the Platinum Rule:
- Get Curious
We often start down a path of doing or talking that is fairly unintentional. We have a lifetime reactions that jump to action as soon as they are triggered. Instead of going down those well-worn paths, pause and get curious. As questions like: What do they need? How can I make them feel heard, seen and valued in this moment? What is their goal?
- Stay close to Jesus
The reality is that we will have a hard time knowing what other people need. We need to have the humility to be honest about the fact that we don’t know. Most people don’t even know for themselves. Therefore, it is a good questions to ask Jesus. I often ask, “Jesus, what does this person need right now?” and then listen.
- Surrender my selfish or self-serving ways
It takes even more humility to realize that loving others the way we want to be loved is sometimes self-serving. It may be fairly subconscious, but it is there. It is hard to love others until we know they will reciprocate. When we start pursuing what the other person needs, it can feel like we are giving up what we need. It is like a standoff, waiting until the other person makes a move first. My encouragement to you… make your move first. It is a surrender and a risk, love always is, but it is well worth it. This also ensures you are going to the right place (yourself and God) for love and validation.