I get the opportunity to work with different people quite often. And of course that presents opportunities to get to know them. And when you take the time to get to know them a bit, the conversation inevitably comes up with some indication of problems that they may be going through or facing. So we’re not talking about the superficial exchange of niceties that people normally exchange, but a little deeper conversation that sometimes is about a family member or a medical situation that the person is dealing with. And in order to get to the secondary level of conversation you need to ask questions. Are they from the local area? How many children do they have? What did they do before working at this job? There are many simplistic questions that one may ask.
The part that amazes me is how quickly people will respond to anyone who shows some sincere interest in them and how quickly they will let you into their world. I find that people in general are much more open than one would expect them to be. I also find, almost without exception, that everyone has problems of some sort. Everyone.
Jesus told us to be the salt of the earth, to be a shining light (Matthew 5:13-16) and when you stop to think about it, it really isn’t that hard of a thing to do. It’s the little things that we can do for others that can make us stand out from the crowd. Showing some sincere interest in them, a kind word of encouragement, the sharing of a similar experience that shows we understand some of what they are going through, a sharing of the source of our strength and faith in Jesus.
Sometimes when we focus on our need to share the Gospel with others, we forget to connect to them first. I think this is a big mistake. When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) is an excellent example. I’ve spoken about this previously in an earlier post. If you have the time, please read it. I’m a strong advocate of earning the right to speak to someone and by that I mean that one takes the time to sincerely get to know them first. Obviously not all situations afford this opportunity but normally when you are dealing with a one to one encounter, this opportunity can be there and too often we neglect to show them sincere interest or concern. I also find that once you begin to know a bit about the other person, identify with them on life lessons etc, that it has a tendency to change the whole tone of how you speak to them thereafter. I’ve found that the person who you don’t love is the person that you don’t really know. Once you get to really know someone it is much easier to love them. Things like what they went through as a child or how they were treated in school etc can have devastating effects on a person. And if there will be opportunities for additional conversations, one doesn’t necessarily have to rush this. It isn’t always necessary to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them in the first conversation, especially if there will be other opportunities down the road. The more that you identify with the other person and they identify with you, the stronger they will take into consideration what you have to say about Jesus later. This is especially true with regard to how you treat others and how you are willing to forgive the faults of others and do for others around you. People see that and it authenticates what you say later on, when you do share the Gospel with them.
Following the leading of the Holy Spirit is also vitally important. He will tell you when to speak and when to listen and most importantly, when not to speak. Pay attention, the Holy Spirit knows a whole bunch more than we do, about us and also about the person to whom we are speaking to. Sometimes it can take weeks or months before the Holy Spirit tells you to speak from your heart. This is especially true, not only when dealing with people that we have just met but also with family members that we are more familiar with. Our light should shine not only when we are outside of our home but most importantly, within our own home, to our spouses, children and extended family members. This is really where the rubber hits the road, within the home and our family. And just in case you are wondering, I’m preaching to myself here also.
We all pretty well have problems and the fact that this is confirmed time and time again by the problems that all of us face, when speaking to others, makes this noteworthy and important and something that we should pay more attention to. We’re not all called to be Evangelists or participate in Christian Apologetic debates or serve as a Pastor, but we are all called to be able to give a reason for the hope that lives within us (1 Peter 3:15).
Just something to be mindful of.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!