That’s the dilemma Alex Pirus faces every time he speaks at a chapel service sponsored by Hockey Ministries International. Despite the fact that he played hockey in the NHL and can therefore relate to the players, Alex still faces hurdles in getting his audience to buy into what he is saying. Hockey players have a well-deserved reputation as he-men on ice who live on the edge and love to drop their sticks and get into a fight. It often takes years of work just to get a team to agree to sponsor a trial chapel service for the players. Then the players have to come. Then you have to get them interested in what you have to say.
When Alex gets up to talk, he tells some stories from his playing days, shares his own spiritual journey, and offers them a copy of An Anchor for the Soul. How does he get them to take the book? “Men hate it when you tell them they’ve got to read a book.”
This is what he says. “I’ve got a little book I’d like to give you. You don’t need to read it now, but I’d like to encourage you to put it where can find it later. You’ll need this someday when you have questions about God that you can’t answer. Just find a safe place to store it so you’ve got it when you need it.”
Does it work? “I’ve never had a player turn me down yet,” he told me.
This approach takes the pressure off everyone. I’m much more likely to listen if you don’t tell me how or when I have to respond. If we give people breathing space, they are more likely to remember what we said and respond positively somewhere down the road. Keep that in mind the next time you share Christ with a friend or a loved one.