I’m impressed with the power of belief. I’m talking about what happens when you believe in a person.
I have had different mentors and people I looked up to. Those who believed in me had a significant opportunity to impact me. Those who signaled doubt tended not to have very much positive influence.
A relationship really changes as soon as you say, “I’m not sure about you.”
The lesson for me is to believe in the people I want to influence. Even if they are not where I think they should be now, I need to cultivate a real optimism for their future. Then I have potential to shape that future.
We went to the Hutchinson Mall on Saturday in pursuit of some work boots. Despite the sort of tomb-like feel to the place, there was a man, perhaps in his 50s, sitting non-excitedly on a bench. It looked as if perhaps he was waiting for someone in a nearby store.
As I entered I considered whether I should talk to him. As I exited he was still there. I walked past him. I stood there and considered whether I should go back and talk to him. We had a supper appointment and more shopping to do yet. We didn’t have much extra time. Was the Spirit saying I should talk to him? My wife was waiting for me.
Bottom line, I’d rather not. Conditions need to be perfect in order for me to witness.
Today in church the visiting pastor talked about how that prior knowledge makes him less receptive. He said that on things he knows nothing about he is very open and receptive. By contrast, he is less receptive when he believes himself to already be knowledgeable on the topic.
I found his comments to be insightful. Ironically, as he launched into the main topic of the sermon, I did what he had warned about. I really didn’t pay very close attention to what he said, in part because of active toddlers, and partly because I felt I already knew a good deal about his topic.
I wonder if this dynamic might play into witnessing in the Bible Belt. People already know Christianity, so they feel little interest in learning about it. This is just a theory at this point.
Scenario 1: Skepticism
TJ goes up to some college kids that were just chilling.
TJ says, “Can I ask you an interesting question? What do you think happens to people after they die?
They just looked at him for a bit without saying anything. One gal says, “How high are you?”
TJ says, “What’s wrong? You don’t usually get asked that question?”
Scenario 2: Disappointment
Another time TJ goes up to some college kids. He tells them he’s doing a survey. Then he asks them,
“What do you think happens to people after they die?”
An awkward pause ensues. Then one guys says, “I was hopin’ it’d be more down the line of ‘how many of you are wearing socks?’”
TJ says good conversations ensued in both cases. He says its fun because you can’t prepare answers ahead of time.
My advice for you this week? Be more like TJ.
I have now experienced Church Planter’s Institute. One thing CPI didn’t have that the Conklin Business Seminar I attended had, were graduation certificates with a somewhat, dare I say, cheesy graduation ceremony. Score one for CPI.
Before the first session, I estimated that the value would be approximately as follows: 25% information, 25% inspiration, and 50% relationships. I think that was pretty close to right.
It was our first BMA event, so it was cool to meet some of the big wigs as well as people of middle-aged mildness with heart and visionary young bucks who see no reason not to take the world by storm.
On the way home as we were cruising along on I-40, we drove past a couple walking along the road with their bags. Since the back seat on this rare occasion was actually not chock full of car seats, and having just come out of two days of indoctrination, what excuse did I have not to offer help?
The couple, perhaps in their sixties, were quite eager to accept a ride. They were on the way to El Paso, TX to join a carnival. Steve was a little vague and dismissive of his work history. Linda was quite chatty. They were on their 3rd and 4th marriage as I recall, both of them indicating this was their final marriage. They talked about church and generally made it quite clear they saw themselves as Christians. They were talking about the fact that they should get some hats that say, “Jesus Saves”.
At CPI Allan Roth had a workshop called Presenting the Gospel to the Un-Churched, while at the same time [the other] Craig Miller gave a presentation on Presenting the Gospel to the Carnal Christian. I chose to listen to Allan’s presentation. On I-40 as we traveled through AR, my interest in Craig’s topic grew considerably more keen.
What do you do? It seemed this couple thought we were fellow Christians and yet I had no assurance that we’d be occupying the same space in the afterlife. What would Jesus say on the day of reckoning? What would Steve and Linda wish I would have said if we weren’t standing on the same side? I felt awkward. I’m not a confrontational person, unless its the neighbor’s dog. Could I just not say anything? Brother in the Lord or not, didn’t I need to say something?
So as we were parting ways around Fort Smith, I said something like this:
“I’ve done you a favor. Now I want you to do me a favor. Make sure you know what Jesus says about divorce and remarriage. I’m not saying this to pick a fight or make you feel bad. I’m just doing my duty.”
What would you have said?
On the highway to hell, how do you steer a “Christian” towards an exit?
P.S. I did listen to Craig Miller’s talk today, which includes the testimony of a young man who used to be a not-for-real Christian. Definitely recommended.