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Choose People

It’s a philosophy that I’ve had a hard time poking a hole in. I’ve been gainfully employed in education, transportation, training and development, sales, agriculture, and entertainment. In each industry there has been a clear divide between the individuals who employed this philosophy in their lives and work, and those that did not.

You hear it as a mantra on insurance commercials and can almost picture that wealthy CEO saying it at a press conference during the pandemic. ”Here at ‘Insert Company Name,’ we choose people first.“

What does “choose people” really mean? The best way to explain it is through the actions of my friend and mentor, J.R. Pinedo.

I was a freshman in high school, hanging out with my friend Ben after wrestling practice in the parking lot of our old middle school. God only knows what we were doing. Out of no where, we hear someone calling our names and see a figure jogging across the soccer field. We consider making a break for it, but we know Coach J.R. was fast. We also know what he was going to talk to us about.

He runs up and grabs us playfully by the arms. He asks us what we were doing and then tells us some ploy he is working up involving a Lucha Libre costume. This is all pretty run-of-the-mill for Coach J.R. Eventually, he brings up YoungLife camp, the same thing he brings up during every conversation. He pulls two pamphlets out of nowhere and to appease him, we take them. Shortly after, we say our goodbyes and we start walking away. As soon as we round the corner Ben and I openly laugh at the thought of attending a Jesus camp and throw the pamphlets in the nearest trash can.

Years later, I’m in my 20’s and playing board games at J.R.’s house while home for the Holiday’s. I bring up that story and guiltily admit what Ben and I did after he handed us those pamphlets. J.R. laughed heartily for a long time, and finally said, “Yeah, I know. I watched you guys. I had to know whether or not I needed to get more pamphlets for the next time I saw you.”

I attended YoungLife camp the summer before my senior year. That singular instance changed my life more than any other experience I’ve ever had. I am so grateful that J.R. chose people that day. Had it been me, I might have chosen my pride. I might have chosen convenience. I might have chosen an easier target.

Choosing people means evaluating all of your options, and choosing the one that makes the lives of other people better.

Choose people over pride.

Choose people over profits.

Choose people over places.

Choose people over comfort.

Choose people over convenience.

Choose people over everything.

Life is only as good as the people we can live it with.


Inconvenience yourself with generous act this week.


What might make others believe you when you say, “I choose people?”


“What most people need to learn in life is how to love people and use things instead of using people and loving things.“ - Zelda Fitzgerald

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