The Prophet (peace be upon him) gave a khutbah (sermon) every Friday, and yet, we have very few of his sermons preserved for us in full. However, what we do have are thousands and thousands of ahadith (preserved accounts) where the Prophet (peace be upon him) talked to just one or two people at a time, usually narrated by those one or two people as a fond memory of theirs. Those personal interactions is where he spent most of his efforts in guiding and helping people.
The work of change and impact and connection is not done from a podium; it’s done from across a coffee table, sitting next to someone on a bench, or from the passenger side of the car. Personal interactions are where the real work is done.
We keep preaching and lecturing and broadcasting and posting to the world. The world has enough generic noise—it doesn’t need us to put out more. What it needs is for you and me to have a conversation.
The moment two people are presented before me, I have to find some way to generalize what I’m talking about to be in common with both of them. But if I’m talking to you, as an individual, then we can get down to discuss the things you studied in college or your current spiritual struggles or what your ultimate dreams and goals are. That’s when we can get to the heart of things.
Too often we think the game is about filling all the seats, gathering a crowd, reaching the largest number of people.
Just because it got easier to reach a lot of people doesn’t suddenly mean that’s the most important thing.
What’s worse is in our pursuit of the masses, we’ve forgotten how to deal with the individual. We’ve lost our ability to sit down with one person and simply talk—honestly, openly, and with vulnerability.
Do me a favor. Interact with one person today, individually. Talk to someone. Offer your name and a “good afternoon.” If you’re Muslim, you have one of the most beautiful icebreakers built in to your life: Assalaamu ‘Alaikum (peace be upon you). Spread it, be the first to greet with it, and say it especially to people you don’t (yet) know.
It’s not gonna be easy to break these shells we’ve created around ourselves. We’ve become complacent being faces in the crowd (or the face that looks out at the crowd). It’s not gonna be easy…
…but it’s worth it.
If we don’t open ourselves up to the people around us, we’ll allow this emerging culture of isolation and hiding behind devices and podiums and platitudes and pleasantries to dominate our interactions with the world. At that point, we reject a life of growth.
And in life, you’re either growing or you’re doing the other thing. (Dying.)
How do you grow? How do you help others grow?
By digging deep—creating a space for seeds to be planted.
If we keep covering up the fertile ground within us, never letting any seeds, water, or sunlight in, then we’ll remain lifeless and eventually barren.
And I tell you, my friend, you are fertile ground. You have more potential than you could possibly realize. But you’ll never experience it until you open yourself to it.
Let their light in.
And share some of your light with someone else,
I look forward to our conversation(s).