Talking To Strangers: Boarding the Plane

People who know me and know that I like to share my faith on the streets, express how they can’t understand how I can strike up a conversation with a complete stranger and share the gospel. I often hear things like, ‘I could never do that.’ or ‘I don’t know how you do it. Isn’t it hard? It seems impossible for me.’ I find it ironic that in some of these conversations that in their next breath say, “Nothing is impossible with God.” I agree, nothing is impossible with God.

Talking to strangers is like a plane trip to a destination. You buy the ticket, and have to pay a hefty price for it. You ask yourself ‘is the juice is worth the squeeze.’ With some investment into this, you purchase the ticket. You are really looking forward to this vacation, but not for the plane ride to get there. It is the most dreaded part of the trip, and the part that gives us all the most anxiety. Things loom in our minds and worries start to set in: what if I miss my flight, what if it gets canceled, what if I have to check my bag, what if the person I sit next to is mean, what if we get hijacked, what if…what if…what if? Even when you get through security, find your seat, and sit down you hope it’s not next to a guy who takes up one-and-a-half seats and that half is yours. Instead you sit next to a very nice person with lots of room, but you still find something to worry or complain about.

Listen, I didn’t just wake up one day and just start sharing the gospel with strangers; I didn’t wake up one day and buy my first plane ticket either. With anything you do, you have to watch someone do it first and see how it’s done. Then, when you feel more confident and ready to book your first flight you have someone over your shoulder watching every key stroke and mouse click you make before confirming.

With anything, if you want to get better at something, or master a skill, it takes a great deal of patience, time, and practice. As I am writing this I have spent months trying to figure out this website. I never used WordPress before, and it was a daunting process to overcome. But I had to ask myself, how bad do I want it? You have to ask yourself, How bad do you want it? Are you willing to put in the work, the time and energy to sharing your faith with the lost? Are you willing to take the laborious steps to achieve this goal, and make sacrifices along the way? Because if you are, the end result are blessings upon blessings. I was willing to make this website, and it took a lot of money, time, and energy; even making sacrifices spending time with my wife. But in the end, I feel I have a great looking place I can call my own on the internet. It may not be perfect, but it is home. The plane flight might be exhausting and crazy, but the destination is worth it.

Every person you are friends with today, was at one time a stranger.

If you have any reservations about the idea, you won’t put in the effort, and it will fizzle out. By nature I am extremely introverted. But introverted doesn’t mean shy or isolated. It means that I take my conversations with people very seriously. It means that I l lose energy with the more people that surround me, and I recharge by being alone. But one thing is for sure, it does not excuse me from talking to people I don’t know. You need to be honest with yourself. Every person you are friends with today, was at one time a stranger. How you met and and got acquainted might all be different: through occupation, from social interaction, maybe through a friend or family member. But no matter what, you didn’t know that person before meeting.

Why Should I Care About Talking To Strangers?

Ask yourself why you want to talk to strangers. For me, I wanted to be able to share the gospel with them. There are way more people I don’t know than those that I do know. Since I wanted to share my faith with the largest chunk of the pie graph of the people in my life, I needed to start talking with them, and not just to them. There are several reasons to start conversations with strangers.

It’s Practice For The People Who Really Matter To Us.

All people matter. I view every conversation I have with a complete stranger as an opportunity to practice and enhance my speaking skills for the people who matter the most to me. These are the people who are closest to me in my sphere of influence, who I will see on a daily or weekly basis. No one who plays football goes on the field on the first day and plays a team for a real game that will count towards their record. It takes a great deal of learning, training, and practice before challenging a team. Those conversations are game day, with uniforms and pads on. In order to have those conversations, I need to first practice. But you don’t practice with the people you are going to play against. When you play the big game, you want to give your very best. Talking to strangers allows us to make mistakes and say the wrong thing without being judged for it. Most strangers actually worry more about themselves looking like fools, than you looking like a fool. Often times you will brighten the day the person you talk with.

Strangers Can Give You a New Outlook On Life and Issues.

I think it is very important and healthy to look at something from a different perspective. On issues regarding homosexuality, abortion, or even women in leadership, my views are founded on the bible, and will not change. But in order to talk about these topics, I need to at least try to understand the opinions of the other side. We likely may not agree, but understanding from where they are basing these views will help me share the gospel in a way that will be more empathetic. The Bible calls us to:

“Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”

Colossians 4:5-6 NKJV

In the same token, it is important to have these dialogues because people in the world need to hear how we, as Christians, view the world. Homosexuals, alcoholics, and those who are in bondage to any sin need to know that we don’t hate them and that they too can be redeemed by Christ’s blood. In order for us to be heard, we need to be able to show grace and listen to what others have to say.

Can Brighten Another Person’s Day

There are some people who go through life and live the same boring routine each day. Get up, eat, get dressed, go to work, come home, eat, go to bed and repeat. Sociologist Keo Stark in her Ted Talk video, Why You Should Talk To Strangers, comments, “When you talk to strangers, you are making beautiful interruptions into the expected narrative of your daily life, and theirs. You are making unexpected connections. When you don’t talk to strangers, you are missing out on all of that.” Studies from Keo Stark and Gillian Sandstrom (Psychology Department, University of Essex), both agree that more often than not, people genuinely enjoy a strangers company, and that their day was a little brighter after a conversation with a stranger. One reason is that people feel more comfortable to be honest and open about their inner selves than they do with their friends and family. They often feel more understood by strangers. This is easy to see being that our love for family and friends can be misinterpreted as prejudice and judgmental because we passionately care about those whom we love and are close to. When we talk to strangers, we are devoid of those emotional bonds. It’s almost freeing to be who we are around them.

Where Do We Go From Here?

An irrational fear of strangers is the perfect recipe for social awkwardness and anxiety. Being comfortable around strangers makes you calmer and an overall better person. It’s only weird if you make it weird. Act naturally, enjoy the time and start a paradigm shift in the right direction.

Therefore, if you have anxiety about talking to strangers or want to share your faith but can’t seem to get into a conversation, this blog roll is for you. In this series: Talking To Strangers, I will show you several ways how I approach strangers for conversation, how to start conversations and keep them going. I believe if my introverted self could help you with this important first step, other larger steps will seem easy.

So, with your bags in the overhead, meal tray up, and seatbelt fastened — prepare for takeoff.

2 thoughts on “Talking To Strangers: Boarding the Plane

  1. Nice picture! I’ve never been seated to anyone that remotely resembles these people!

    Going out and sharing your faith is like teaching a baby to walk or even teaching a kid how to play basketball. Babies don’t run and 9 year olds do not dunk baskets!

    Blessings!

    May grace and peace be with you! Wayne Goranson

    Liked by 1 person

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