Today’s Scripture: Philippians 4
I am so very excited! I am positively tickled pink! You see, I will be starting to serve as a greeter and usher at the Perrysburg campus this coming Saturday, and I am very much looking forward to it! Anyone who knows me knows that I have an outgoing and extroverted personality. I love being around people—people of all different backgrounds. I love striking up interesting conversations. I love helping others. So, while I love writing for the Living It Out and will continue to do so, I was looking to serve in another way as well, where I would have the chance to interact more with people. So being a greeter seemed like a logical choice for me.
Today, we are reading Philippians 4. Lead Pastor Ben Snyder actually spoke about this chapter in his message two weeks ago when he discussed how the key to being refreshed is your perspective. What stuck out to me this week is how this chapter, and thus Philippians as a book, ends:
Philippians 4:21-23 (NIV)
21 Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. 22 All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
While this is of course a farewell greeting at the end of a letter, it reminded me of the importance of how we greet one another—especially how we welcome others upon meeting them for the first time. The impression you make on someone within the first couple of minutes can have long-lasting effects. No pressure, right?
I love how CedarCreek has greeters everywhere inside and outside their campus buildings. I still remember the first time I came to CedarCreek, thinking how welcoming and inviting the atmosphere felt. It was definitely like nothing I had ever experienced at any other church before!
When someone smiles at you, shakes your hand, or gives you a hug, there are actually physiological changes in your body that occur, which can have a profound effect on your emotional well-being. The vagus nerve is stimulated, which then triggers the release of oxytocin (AKA: the love hormone, the cuddle hormone, or the trust-me drug). This then has trickle-down effects throughout the body, causing a decrease in heart rate and a drop in the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine. In short, positive human contact is good for us and makes us feel good!
Well, you might say, “Of course it does! We did not need neuroscience to tell us that.” That is true, though it is still important to understand the underlying neurology so that we can better help people (for example, oxytocin has been shown to help people with autism and schizophrenia overcome social deficits).
But I think we do also sometimes forget how much positive impact we can make on a daily basis by simply smiling at the people we encounter. We can forget how much of a difference a heartfelt handshake or hug can make in someone’s life. Someone may be feeling lonely or sad, and your greeting may be the only positive interaction they have that day. They may have had a very stressful work week, or church may be the first breather they have had from a busy parenting life all week (Thank you CedarCreek Kid’s staff!). Greeting someone warmly and showing them they matter in the name of Jesus will also refresh our own heart. I look forward to greeting you at the Perrysburg campus and personally welcoming you to CedarCreek Church!
How are you interacting with the people around you? Do you smile when you greet them? Is your handshake or hug from the heart? Is there someone who you encounter on a regular basis, but whom you do not know personally, who might benefit from a positive interaction? Do you have CedarCreek invitation cards in your pocket or purse?
Make a list of five ways you could brighten someone’s day through a positive interaction. Be aware of your body language when you encounter others. Make sure you smile more often at others and have CedarCreek invitation cards ready to hand out when needed.
Greeting on the First Impressions Dream Team is one of the ways that someone can make a difference at CedarCreek, but there are also many other opportunities to make a difference at our church. To learn about those opportunities and which one is right for you, complete the GrowthTrack at your campus.
Dear Father, thank you for giving me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others through the simple act of smiling, shaking someone’s hand, or hugging them. Please make me mindful not to waste any opportunity given by you to brighten someone’s day! Thank you for refreshing me through positive interactions with others as you use me and them in your plan. Amen.
This post was written by Cordula Mora. Cordula is a neuroscientist who currently works in the Provost office at Bowling Green State University. She was born and raised in Germany, then spent many years living in New Zealand before settling in the US almost 16 years ago. She was raised in a German Protestant church but feels blessed to have been spiritually awakened when she was introduced to CedarCreek Church. She thanks God every day for all the blessings in her life, including two amazing daughters. She is currently looking for someone who would like to serve the Lord with her.
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