Have you ever inserted yourself into a group without an invitation?
At the end of my junior year in college, I needed a roommate for the next year. My current roommate had decided not to return, and my other friends had roommates.
Two girls I knew casually lived on my dorm floor in a room with three beds.
I asked if I could share their room.
These girls were Pam and Patti Sanders, cousins from Paducah, Kentucky.
If they were unhappy getting a new roommate, they didn’t let me know.
Their welcome was a blessed relief.
Forty-plus years later, I remember their kindness.
Compare Patti and Pam’s welcome to this one.
I accepted a medical transcriptionist position at a hospital. On my first day, I faced an unwelcoming committee of one.
As I settled into my new work area, the transcriptionist sitting nearest me said, “You can call that your chair if you want to, but that will always be Jackie’s chair.”
Jackie, the former chair occupant, had left her position to move to another state.
My new coworker’s comment stung.
Entrances are hard. Walking into a party solo is awkward for single people. A student enters a new school with dread. New hires to a workplace crave acceptance. Visitors to a church fear rejection.
One Sunday our minister interviewed, in front of the congregation, four people who attend church nowhere. He asked them why they stay away from church.
One turnoff, they said, was the cool reception they received when they visited a church.
That motivated me, after the service, to approach a couple sitting in front of me. I introduced myself and asked if they were visitors.
“No,” one of them said. “We have been members for 20 years.”
(We attend a large church.)
They didn’t need a welcome, but our conversation was pleasant and embarrassed no one.
Relaxed partygoers do not intentionally shun uncomfortable guests. They eat, drink and mix with friends and assume everyone else is doing the same.
Students established in a school do not intend to avoid new students. They are focused on passing calculus or having a date to the prom.
The unwelcoming woman at my new job didn’t make the chair remark because she wanted to hurt me. She spoke out of her sadness over losing her friend.
Church members who fail to interact with visitors are not unkind people. They are busy people. Distractions keep them from showing visitors a warm reception.
Offering welcomes can be costly.
Patti and Pam’s welcome cost them one-third of their living space.
For relaxed partygoers, students, coworkers, and church members, the cost is less tangible.
It may require them to leave their comfort zones, endure mild inconvenience, and risk rejection.
They must take their focus off themselves and place it on someone else.
Those who master this graceful art leave blessed people in their wake.
One partygoer, one student, one coworker, or one church member can make a difference.
Look for opportunities to be that person.