Have you ever felt a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit directing you to talk about spiritual things with a friend or even an acquaintance, but felt too nervous or unprepared to take the plunge? Many of us have encountered that nervous feeling from time to time.
It's a crazy thing, really, when you think about it. Why are we hesitant to talk about spiritual things with other people, especially if we know Jesus Christ and He is making a bonafide difference in our lives? Isn't that worth talking about? Isn't He worth sharing? And isn't the hope He gives us worth spreading?
But, whether it's a ploy of the enemy or just a matter of personal insecurities, I've had difficulty at times taking a very real cue from the Holy Spirit to introduce a more spiritual tone to a conversation. I've played it safe and stayed in neutral territory, settling for small talk rather than spiritual talk.
However, over the years, as I've invested myself in ministry opportunities, I've forced myself to try and break through those perceived barriers so I can be a more effective witness for Christ. I'm determined not to waste an opportunity, if I can possibly help it, to share the love of Christ and the hope He gives with anyone who may be the least bit receptive.
Here are a few pointers for gently nudging a conversation toward the spiritual:
- Ask God to present you with opportunities for spiritual discussions. Give Him permission to bang you on the head with them if necessary! I've had to ask God to make those obvious entry ways even more obvious to me, since I found myself noticing them only in my rear view mirror, so to speak. Ask for sensitivity to others that alerts you to when they're seeking, curious, open, and even thirsty for truth.
- Pray for your lost friends, neighbors and acquaintances, so that you are already thinking spiritually in regards to them.
- Don't think of it as having "the talk." Just approach those natural transitions as opportunities to share a little bit about the difference God has made in your life. Then if the Lord allows for the conversation to deepen, so be it. You can be assured He will walk you through every thrilling minute of it!
- Rehearse daily what God has done in your life recently so you're ready to share. I'm not suggesting a rote rehearsal of some sort of speech. Instead, I'm encouraging you to notice and thank God daily for the things He is teaching you, providing for you, helping you with, giving you victory over, etc. Then it will be only natural for you to share those things with another.
- Ask simple questions that require a little thought. If your friend is talking with you about a problem she's having -- in her marriage, with her child, at work, with a particular goal, overcoming a bad habit, etc. -- approach that as an opportunity to help her think about the spiritual implications. You might ask: Have you prayed about this? Have you considered what the Bible has to say about this? This reminds me of a Proverb from the Bible; are you familiar with Proverbs?
- Supply connecting points. If you know your friend is not a believer, but she's seeking help in a particular area and seems open, provide an appropriate point for her to connect with Christ and the Bible. Invite her to your MOPS group, your church's worship service, your women's Bible study, a women's event at your church. Suggest a Christian book on the topic of concern, or a Christian web site. Tell her how this "connecting point" has benefited you.
- Follow up on the connection. Ask what she thought about the church service and see if she has any questions about what she experienced. Talk about the book you recommended and she read. Discuss the women's event you attended together.
- Ask if you can pray for your friend. And it's especially beneficial if you can offer to pray for her right there on the spot, depending on the circumstance. If you can't pray in her presence, at least tell her specifically what you'll be praying for and assure her God will hear your prayers on her behalf. Then follow up later. By the way, surveys show that the vast majority of people welcome the gesture of someone praying for them; very few find it offensive.
Remember, it may seem a little risky to turn the conversation from casual to Christ-centered, small talk to spiritual, but the rewards could be eternal.
Do you have other suggestions for how to open the door to discussing spiritual matters with a friend or acquaintance? What has worked for you? We'd love to know and we'd be encouraged by your input!