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COLUMN: People or paperwork?

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By Jon Rohr

Over the last few weeks I have been interacting with insurance agencies, banks, doctors and assorted other organizations on behalf of my mother.  The headaches and mindless policies can drive you crazy!  And then there are those who forget that each policy number or account number represents a living breathing person! By the way, all of this stuff happened in a state that will remain nameless, although orange and volunteer may give you a hint!
 When did we forget that people are more important than paperwork? I am not talking about filling out reams of forms, though we certainly did that!  No, I am talking about dealing with people in real life situations that don’t always fit the standard plan.  And in my experience, every person has needs and circumstances that are unique.
It would be great to be able to say that I kept my temper under control, but that would be stretching the truth.  Better to say that I at least avoided using words that a Pastor should never use!  In dealing with all this Romans 12:18 kept coming to mind, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (NIV) So I did my best to be civil and kind and work my way through the obstacles.
And at the same time all that was happening, a bank manager, or a nurse, and even a Medicare advisor would shine through.  Someone who would listen, someone who would make the system work for us rather than against us, someone who knew that real people in real life sometimes need real help!
And in that I saw God’s grace!  These men and women did something rare, they listened carefully and responded with compassion and care.  Proverbs 1:5 says “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” (NIV)  They offered real help and real direction and I truly thank God for them!
So let me encourage you to be as kind as you can with those who treat you like a number.  Perhaps they need someone to treat them as more than just a voice over the phone.  And then, when God does send those special people who see through the paperwork to the person underneath, give Him thanks!  He really does meet us in our need and He really is worthy of our praise!