By Jeff Stovall, Junto Tribe Pastor
Have you ever been to summer camp? I’ve attended as both a youth and a leader, but one of my greatest privileges as a youth minister was being put in charge of games. It brings a smile to my face recalling all of the fun, competition, and pure silliness that was involved. I designed the games, created the rules, and assigned teams points according to the place they came in.
First place, for example, got 10 points, second place got 8 points, and so on. I did this for several years until I came upon a wise youth minister who said, “Don’t be stingy with points! The more points you hand out the more excitement it creates, and besides, points don’t cost you anything, but the youth sure
love to get them!” From then on, I handed out points like candy; first place got 10,000 points, second place 8,000… and the kids went out of their minds with excitement. Even the team that came in last place was still earning thousands of points!! We’ll come back to that thought in a moment.
Have you ever had someone speak into your life? That’s a rhetorical question… of course, we all have. An unexpected, encouraging word can be so timely and infuse such amazing hope into our day, while a cruelly spoken word can be so cutting, zapping our very strength. At some point or another, we have all been on the giving and receiving ends of both cruel and encouraging words.
The third chapter in the book of James tells us that our tongues are small but mighty; like a rudder that steers a great ship or a spark that can set a great forest aflame. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Kind words are like honey-sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
We live in a world where people thirst to hear a kind word, but all too often they receive just the opposite. Within each of us lies the ability to quench that thirst… to genuinely speak words of life and peace into a person… to inject hope into hopelessness. And just like handing out points to excited youth, our words cost us nothing, but they benefit the one who receives and also the one who generously gives.
I have to say that I truly enjoy interacting with people… and if I’m being completely forthright, some people are much easier to speak with than others. I look for opportunities to speak with people on a deeper level all the time – at the grocery store, at work, or while traveling. I start by asking simple questions like, “How’s your day going?” or “What do you think about the weather?”
I look for hints that might tell me their likes or dislikes, or accents that might let me know where they’re from. I love it when I press the right button and they start to open up to me… to let me into their world just a bit. It’s not long after that an opportunity to speak an encouraging or kind word arises. I believe it’s on this basis that relationships are born and friendships have their beginning.
As a Christian, I find this to be a very effective form of evangelism. I can’t tell you how many wonderful faith encounters have come from simply starting a conversation… by showing interest in another human being and speaking words of kindness into their lives.
There’s no need to stand on a corner and thump your Bible. When they hear the genuineness in your words and feel the sincerity in your heart, they will often ask you about your faith. It is moments like these that we should live for as Christians; to be ready to speak the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the lives of the lost. When we do so, it is like gushing springs of water into dry and weary bones.
We can’t just sit back and hope that opportunities to minister to the needs of people will appear; we must actively seek them out. As ambassadors of Christ, it is our duty to represent our Lord. As salt and light, it is our privilege to make an eternal difference in the world in which we live. Will you ask God to daily provide conversations that give you the opportunity to speak life and peace into others’ lives? Will you intentionally seek out people who need a kind word? The cost to you will be minimal… the eternal rewards will be priceless.
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…
This is a blog post originally posted on Junto Tribe Ministries