Tonight is New Years Eve and tomorrow, more food, drinks and perhaps watching sports. And of course, the conversations with family and friends, some of whom you know well and enjoy and others – well, not so much.
If you believe you are Jesus’ surrogate – his stand-in in this life, and in your family, there are conversations he wants you to have tonight and tomorrow that go beyond talking about the weather. (or sports, politics, etc.) So how might Christians better prepare themselves for these redemptive relationship opportunities?
Begin by asking for the Holy Spirit for “spiritual radar” for the people he has appointed for you to meet or spend time with over the next few days.
When you enter the house or room look around the room, not for a friendly face, but for a stranger, perhaps a person standing all alone. Even in a room full of family, there are usually extended family members you rarely see. There may even be a family member or friend who’ve made some horrible choices and they sense everyone’s judgment. Look for the black sheep of the family. They may need a friend tonight.
Be a good listener by asking questions. Think ahead about some questions that you might pose that could move the conversation deeper, like;
“What has been the best thing that’s happened to you this year?”
“Please give me a 10 minute snapshot of your life.” (Then listen carefully for hints about important people or events in their life, about which you can ask follow-up questions.)
“Who was the most influential person in your life growing up?”
“Have you made any new years resolutions?”
If you’re discussing their work, you might ask, “What’s the thing you enjoy most about your job? Or, “Who was the best boss you ever had and why?”
You may have noticed I’ve not asked any spiritual questions. Occasionally, I will if the conversation moves in that direction. But the most important thing for me is to build a better relationship to where they are asking questions of me – questions that may lead to me being able to share my spiritual life with them.
At these initial conversations, I’m constantly aware that the purpose is to build a relationship, not evangelize. I want them to feel comfortable enough that if I’m prompted by God to have another conversation, at a later date, they’ll be inclined to accept. (Although I personally never follow-up with women, without a friend, their husband or my wife present.)
Does all this sound like too much planning for you? I find it interesting that all of us prepare for presentations for business, ministries or at church. We wouldn’t think of going into situations where we hope to persuade or influence others, without one. So, where we have the opportunity to possibly change the course of someone’s life, why would we do any less?
This world is full of “lite relationships” – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts. People need deeper relationships and conversations than “How is your year going?” God will be placing you in situations in the next few days where you have the privilege to go deeper. Maybe those people are already born-again Christians, but they’ve lost their first love. You may have the honor of helping them come back to being fully in love with Jesus. Wherever they are spiritually, you are Christ’s ambassador.
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” 2 Corinthians 5:20a
Oh, and finally, watch how much you drink. If you want the Holy Spirit to speak to you and through you, you will need your head clear to stay, “on mission.”
How following Jesus works in real life.
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