Thursday, February 19, 2009

Being Gracious and Evangelistic

I remember when one of my older kids hit 18 and went off to university. Their vocabulary stretched by a word or two. I winced, but I didn’t offer a rebuke. Instead, I cheated and simply prayed. The Holy Spirit convicted them a while later, and even later during a visit they told me about it. My decision not to say such words had become their own personal conviction—literally without me having to say a word.

In essence, they realized they had never once heard Mom or Dad say such words, and they felt convicted by God to not use such words either. Now, clearly, those terms were “off limits” before they were 18 in our home, but even then not because we had such rules in our family.

Instead, we had simply talked with our older children about how to handle it when others use such terms or make harsh remarks. In our family, we explained, we have made the choice not to be offended. Instead, we always want to be gracious and evangelistic.

When I arrived at my hotel in Nashville this past Tuesday night, the hotel manager was training a brand-new employee. The woman in line ahead of me was nearly finished checking in. The brand-new employee was very polite, but made the mistake of saying the woman’s room number out loud, a huge taboo in the hotel industry for security reasons. Immediately, the manager rebuked the rookie as the woman walked away.

The tone in the hotel lobby was tense. I saw my opportunity, stepped up to the front desk, and cracked a joke. Humor is one of the best ways I’ve found to earn the right to witness to others. I used it with Nick, as I said yesterday. And I used it last Tuesday night with the hotel manager and trainee. I followed up with some more joking around, got them laughing, and then threw out a hook.

I started using a story to present the basic Gospel message, then paused. They asked what happened, so I finished the story and started a second one. They asked what happened, so I told the rest of that story. They agreed that they needed God in their lives, so I explained how later that evening they could pray to the Lord and place their trust in Him.

We traded contact information, they asked me to send them a book that explained the Gospel further, and walked away thanking God. I thanked God for having a great sense of humor and for giving the gift of humor to humanity, and for making humor, storytelling, and other wonderful, fun ways to share the Gospel with others.

After all, in their heart, almost everyone wants God, even if they have no idea that God is who they’re looking for.

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