John Yeats is executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention and recording secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Leaning through the doorway of the florist shop, I soon smelled the spring flowers. And when I stepped into the room, the rush of blooms surrendering their pungent fragrance enveloped me.
Immediately, my mind raced to Philippians 4:8: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is attractive, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”
The experience was so pleasant I indeed wanted to “dwell.” I normally shop by rushing into a store, snatching what needs to be purchased, and racing to the shortest checkout line. My wife Sharon says I can do an entire mall in less than 15 minutes. That sounds about right.
But on this day, I was motivated to bless Sharon with a fresh bouquet the florist would arrange in the back room. So I waited a little while. However, I was able to engage the store clerk in conversation that moved from the peripheral to the more substantial.
After all, it is the lifestyle pattern of Christ-followers to engage people in normal conversation with the goal of moving the conversation toward our faith in Christ. Sometimes, you get all the way there and lead someone to faith. Sometimes, the experience is the aroma of a pleasant conversation that encourages a stranger to know more from you or another believer.
This would be a good time to suggest several tips for engaging people you don’t know in conversation:
1. Take the initiative.
As we are learning from Uber research, some people do not want to engage in conversation. However, the vast majority are willing to do so if they consider the topic of the conversation to be pleasant and safe. So have at it. Talk with your neighbor, the Walmart person, the shop owner, the teacher, the fellow airline passenger, whoever the Lord brings into your path of life.
2. Learn the art of the question.
Jesus was absolutely the master of asking questions for the purpose of entering into someone’s world. If you ask someone about their world, the vast majority of the time you get a response because people like to talk about themselves. The exception to that is the person with a deep emotional wound, but at least you tried. Jot down some questions that help you learn about people you have contact with. Practice with your spouse, friend or work associate.
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Source: Baptist Press