Life is filled with struggles and self doubt. Over the years there have been times when I was frustrated with my religious life. I knew that, as a Christian, I was supposed to share my faith. But on balance, it was not a particularly rewarding experience. My mode of operation was basically to get some poor soul in my crosshairs and try to sit him down long enough for me explain how he was wrong. Then, with phase one accomplished, I’d baptize him into Jesus. But there was a problem with this. It’s what salespeople call “buyer’s remorse.” More often than not, within a few months, he had lost interest—and was nowhere to be found.
In more recent years it has occurred to me that Jesus didn’t evangelize that way. Jesus was never in a hurry. As I share in the ReTooled & ReFueled Seminar for Jesus, conversion wasn’t about “closing” another sale. And it wasn’t to make him feel more spiritual. As a matter of fact, Matthew records some of Jesus’ last instructions to his disciples this way: “As you go about whatever else you’re doing always be ready to share the good news of what I’ve done in your lives” (loosely paraphrased from Matthew 28).
For Jesus, seeing a lost person turn her heart to him was about that individual. Jesus understood that people are not robots who can be force fed a stack of facts and, then, immediately and predictably come to his inevitable conclusion. Instead, having made humankind in his own image, Jesus realized that people are all about relationship. We thrive on relationship. We find our joy in relationship.
The Jesus approach was to first find a person’s perceived need and tend to it. He fed hungry people. He healed sick people. He befriended lonely people. He picked up the scraps of humanity and invested himself in their lives by meeting their needs. Then, with a solid bridge of relationship constructed, he shared the good news. Some years later, the apostle Paul mused, “How beautiful are the feet of the one who brings the good news.”
So with this as my springboard, allow me to share an idea that you might want to try. Begin by selecting a restaurant near your home. For me, this will probably be a nearby Waffle House. I won’t digress too far here, but I want to explain why I mention the Waffle House. If you’re not a Southerner, you may not be familiar with these delightful greasy spoons that dot our part of the country.
While they’re certainly not known for health-conscience menus, there’s nothing better than one of their famous waffles. But there’s another, more practical, reason why I prefer Waffle Houses for this particular ministry. I call Waffle Houses “cave torches.” These 24/7 diners are built with huge glass windows and filled with bright, fluorescent lighting. At night, they look like torches in a cave. (Stay with me here. In a moment you’ll see why this is important.)
Since it may take several attempts to find the “right” situation, an especially good time of year to begin this project might be about mid-November. Go into your selected restaurant as often as it takes to meet a server who obviously is hurting. Maybe it will be a young woman wearing a button with a picture of two toddlers. A second glance tells you that she isn’t wearing a wedding band. You can pretty well fill in the blanks. Gradually, over a couple of visits, you begin a dialogue with her. Then one day simply ask, “I’m going to say a prayer for my meal in a moment. Is there anything I can pray about for you?” Whether she accepts or rejects your offer, your warmth will likely touch her soul. Don’t rush. Simply continue visiting the restaurant and always be sure to sit in her station. Talk. Communicate. Show true concern.
Then, as Christmas draws closer, think about this young woman. Ask yourself, “What does she need that she probably doesn’t already have?” Note: This is not the time to over-spiritualize things and declare to yourself, “She needs Jesus!” Sure she does. You know that. The trouble is, she is still probably unaware of her true need. But she does perceive the need for enough money to buy some toys for her kids.
So before your next visit (now just a few days prior to Christmas) gather the family together and agree not to buy another bunch of idiot gifts that no one really wants or needs. Instead, determine that this Christmas will be for Jesus—and the girl at the restaurant. That evening go back to the restaurant.
Order a meal and visit a little more. By this time, your server may be looking forward to your visits. Spend a couple of extra moments and inquire about her children. Talk about anything she wants to discuss. Remind her that she’ll be in your prayers, and wish her the merriest Christmas ever. Then, as you leave, slip a $100 bill under your plate. Quietly go out to your car—and watch her pick the plate up. That, dear one, is Christmas! (By the way, this is why I prefer restaurants with big windows and lots of light.)
When the New Year turns, drop back in. Don’t make any big deal—just be your friendly self. In time, the odds are high she will open her heart and soul to you. That’s when it becomes person to personal. Then, as her true friend, you can begin to share the really good news. Isn’t life too short not to do it the Jesus way?
Steve Diggs has presented the No Debt No Sweat! Money Management and ReTooled & ReFueled Essential Life-Skills Seminars over 500 times at churches, colleges, conferences, employee groups, and other venues nationwide. Visit Steve at www.NDNS.org, www.RetooledAndRefueled.com or www.SteveDiggs.com or call 615-834-3063. The author of seven books, Steve has been a TV commentator, syndicated columnist, minister, and, today, is a fulltime speaker. For 25 years he was President of the Franklin Group, Inc. Steve and Bonnie have four grown children whom they have home schooled. The family lives in Brentwood, Tennessee.
No Debt No Sweat! Christian Money Management Seminar teaches God's people how to use God's money God's way. More at www.NDNS.org.
ReTooled & ReFueled: The Essential Christian Life-Skills Seminar shows Christians how to live for the beautiful bye and bye—while dealing with the nasty now and now. More atwww.RetooledAndRefueled.com.