I was planning on making the previous Talking to Strangers post the last one in the blog series. As I reflected on all that was covered, I asked myself – what now? What happens after a good or bad conversation, and how should we respond?
A Good Ride
When we get our luggage the way we want it, we are happy. We are ecstatic when things go our way, or better than expected. In the end of the day we can look back after all the walking, headaches, people, and still call it a good day. We are at our happy destination, whether vacation or home, with all we brought. It was the outcome we wanted.
The end of a good conversation, especially a spiritual one, despite the time and effort generated, in the end was a good idea. Things went well, and for the most part everyone is happy. Everyone comes away being a better person than when they started and the work was worth it. Maybe information was exchanged and the parties involved wanted to continue the conversation at a later date. If you promised to get information or send something to the other person, get it out A.S.A.P.. The longer you wait, easier it is that one of you has forgotten about it.
Even more amazing is when a person receives Christ. We have the opportunity, privilege, and duty to disciple them and watch them grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. To bring them along side you and pass the baton in the race we are running. If you are personally unable to do that, whether you are the opposite gender or live in another state, try to work with the person and other churches to get them plugged in to a good bible-believing-teaching local church near them. We are all on the same team, and should work together to build the Kingdom of God.
A Bad Trip
But what happens when things don’t go the way we planned it. Very few things make our hearts sink into our chests than to see an empty airport luggage carousel in baggage claim and our bag(s) not on it. It’s the same feeling when the spiritual conversation didn’t go as planned. Maybe the other person got mad, or even hostile towards you. Maybe things were said and done to make you cringe, or worse take the wind out of your sails. Your body tenses up and you think to yourself, “It’s going to be a long time before I do that again.” Don’t worry, we all go through that in one form or another. But what can we do about it.
Sometimes we need to take some time and catch our breath after we have a bad conversation. Even if we are passing out tracts and have a stack in hand, you may just need to take a few minutes and regroup. Take a few deep breaths and reassess the situation. I had many moments when I just needed a quiet space to pray and refocus after bad witnessing encounters. It drains your energy and you feel depleted emotionally and spiritually. Don’t worry if you are on a time constraint. You need to take care of yourself as well.
Through the years I’ve had some really emotional times when I’ve been sharing my faith. I have had people turn their backs on me; some completely walking away. I’ve had people get really mad at me for the stance I took and the beliefs I hold. I’ve even shed tears when I see sin in its true form. The reason I have not gone to a gay pride parade to share Jesus is because it’s too emotional for me. When I have tried, and I just found the nearest alley, weep, and pray while the spiritual heaviness surrounded me.
It may seem cliché, but the world really rejects Jesus and not us. Even He had to take time away from the crowds. He was 100% God, but also 100% human. Jesus shared the truth with the rich, young ruler. Despite him walking away, Jesus still loved him. (Mark 10:21-22) That had to cut the Lord. But even through personally witnessing His miracles, His teachings and His love, people still rejected Him. The Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes rejected Him. Pontus Pilate rejected Him. (John 18:37, 38) If they rejected the Master, what do you think they would do with the servants? (Matthew 10:25)
And who [is] he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, [you are] blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled." But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always [be] ready to [give] a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For [it is] better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. [1 Peter 3:13-17 NKJV]
Remember that you are doing the Lord’s work and that those who suffer for righteousness sake are blessed.
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed [are you], for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. ... Yet if [anyone suffers] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. [1 Peter 4:12-14, 16 NKJV]
After a hard conversation, take some time for yourself. Go somewhere and pray: for the person you just talked to, for strength and perseverance to keep going, and for the souls you have left to share Christ with. Get a cookie. No harm in that. But most importantly, keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t let these minor setbacks keep you from sharing your faith. You are a child of the King — own it.
We should learn from the conversations. What went right? What went wrong? At what point did things turn? How could you have done better? Could we have said something different or maybe even added some clarity to what was talked about? How was your demeanor, posture, and tone of voice? We may not be able to change what happened, but we could be better prepared for the next one. Like the Post-it Note on my computer desk says:
Never let your “defeats” of the past steal you of the victories of tomorrow. [means NO dwelling on failures] (wife added).author unknown
This sums up the entire TALKING TO STRANGERS series. If you would like to learn more, think about joining me to learn how to share your faith. Check out the Outreach Events page and send me an email. We can also just hit the streets on a one-on-one basis.