Social Animals

My wife and I spent the better part of Memorial Day weekend with our children. All of them. 6 kids, ages 13 to 23, one daughter-in-law, and one amazingly beautiful granddaughter. That is not the impetus for the title, although for a stretch of the day, when the boys were in the pool, the term animals was pretty applicable.

I must say that of all the things I have accomplished, and all the things I have acquired, those few hours of my whole family being together with me were all I really desire.

The question is: Why do we tend to gather and eat and play together? And not just families, but people in general, as I am sure many of you spent part or all of the long weekend with other people. Why?

We were made for social interaction.

Research has shown that the outcome for heart attack patients is statistically better if they regularly eat with other people. If fact, the impact on outcome is as great as stopping smoking. Eating better, reducing stress, and limiting alcohol consumption have far lower statistical relevance.

It is significant that the research showed eating meals together as important. A meal has a high likelihood of being a socially-interactive event. A meal sets the stage for conversation about the day, how things are going, and about life in general. It is this interaction that is life-giving. You could even go so far as to say that knowing others, and being known, improves our health and increases our wellness.

We each spend about 35% of our waking hours here at Kimray. Many of us have jobs that require frequent interaction with others, while some of us spend more of our work hours “alone.” All of us have several opportunities each day to spend time in meaningful interaction with others. Lunch, a few minutes at the coffee pot, even taking a few minutes before getting to the “work” in a meeting to catch up and find out how the other person is doing. This attention to each other is important for our individual health and wellbeing, and by extension is necessary for the health and wellbeing of our community.

I think it is significant that Jesus ate with the people he cared about and wanted to help. The wedding feast in Cana, dinner at Zacchaeus’s house, and the Passover meal with his disciples, just to name a few. I have to believe that he understood the impact he was having on people, but I also wonder if he was seeking the impact people would have on him. It is hard to care about someone you do not know. Jesus took time to get to know and relate to the very people he came to save in very experiential and human ways. I wonder if that was important for him so he could more readily understand their need for his sacrifice and serve as someone who could relate to our humanity—because he was fully human, too.

How much more important is it for us to connect with the people around us? How can we meet the needs of our team members if we don’t even know them? It will require some effort and maybe be inconvenient at times, but we stand to gain so much.

Get to know the people you are working with. It is good for you. It is good for them. It is The Kimray Way.