By Dr. Rich Bimler, Lutheran Life Communities –

Arlington NaplesResearchers in Australia have recently released a survey which reports that caffeine makes people more open to listening and trying to understand other peoples’ opinions and ideas. We coffee guzzlers would probably say we knew this all along, right?

This study alone should encourage us to visit our local Starbucks  store regularly, but let me also add that Starbucks , or as I like to call my “world-wide” office space, St. Arbucks (because it sounds more spiritual that way!), is also a great place to listen and to get a positive glimpse of people young and old.

But back to the coffee study. The caffeine-infused group tested out to be more open to logical argument and to appreciate other mindsets and points of view. This kind of open-mindedness in relationships is so critical since we and the world continue to change each day. No longer can we feel that there are only two opinions on various issues – my opinion and the wrong opinion!

We need people around us who agree with us, certainly, but also those who disagree and push us to think out loud about conflicting values and lifestyles. We do not exist in a vacuum. We are products of the people we know now and of the people who formed and mentored us in the past.

Proverbs 27:17 fits in with this St. Arbucks approach: “As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend”. Listening to those around us can certainly happen outside of a St. Arbucks, but why not enjoy the flavor, ambiance, and caffeine at your near-by St Arbucks while you are in the process of friend-building?

Obviously, we do not want to over-emphasize this new revealing study. We certainly have and continue to develop relationships in other places besides a St. Arbucks – through our communities, churches, schools, families, and places of work, recreation, and volunteering. The whole point of this article is to encourage you and me to be intentional about listening more closely, sharing more concretely, and conversing more openly with others, whether or not we are motivated by that extra boost of caffeine!

Let me suggest that this month we seek out ways to converse with someone of a different background and culture than ours. Take the time to chat with a little seven year old in your area. Spend an extra few minutes visiting with the bagger at your local Publix to see how her day is going.

There really is a lot to learn from others, if we only take the time to listen, to ask, and to be more open to the ideas and concerns of those gifts that the Lord  has put  around us. They are called People!

I will look for you at my friendly St. Arbucks this week! Let’s talk, whether you drink a Tall of the Day, a Frappuccino, or a Latte, with or without the caffeine! And if I am not there, feel free to visit with someone else!

About the Author
Dr. Rich Bimler, Bloomingdale, Illinois, has served the Church in various positions throughout his   49   year ministry  career. He repositioned in 2006 after serving for 15 years as  President/CEO of Wheat Ridge Ministries. He serves as the  Ambassador of  Health, Hope, and Aging (AH-HA!) for Lutheran Life Communities, Arlington Heights, Illinois.  He  continues to write, speak, and consult with other agencies and organizations throughout the world.
The Arlington – www.arlingtonnaples.org

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