I reference this letter on my sidebar under the "Gospel and Evangelism" list. But it came to my attention that when it is selected, I am taken to a registration form. So to get around that annoyance, I've resposted the letter here. It is written by Gregory Koukl with Stand to Reason, and it expresses a simple path to follow in showing Christ to those we encounter so often yet for so little time.
* * * * *February 1, 2001
We talked a little last time about what it means to be an ambassador for Christ (remember 2 Corinthians 5:20?). You might have wondered how this works out in the nuts and bolts of daily life. It occurred to me that sometimes being a good representative of the Kingdom hinges on the simplest things, almost trivial.
Let me give you an example from my own life.
I have had some of the most interesting conversations about spiritual matters with ordinary people who serve my table in restaurants. Since any contact with others is an opportunity to be an ambassador, I try to keep an eye open for what might turn out to be a "divine appointment."
This is something you can do, too. Here are some ways to set the stage to engage them in a friendly way.
First, find out the server's name.
This is simple if they're wearing a name tag. If not, simply ask. If it's a unique name or suggests some ethnic history, ask about it. It's a friendly thing to doeven flatteringand will help you remember their name better.
Begin to use their name immediately. If you're like me, it's difficult to keep track of names, especially of people you encounter for the short duration of a quick meal. But there are a few things that help.
First, just the conscious effort itself may be enough to help you remember. Another way is to associate something new with something old. When you tie the new thing to something you already know, the job is much easier. In my case, if the waiter's name is Mike I immediately think of Mike, my good friend and former tennis partner. That alone will temporarily fix the waiter's name in my mind.
The second thing to do: Leave a decent tip.
My own standard is between 15% on the low end to 20% for really good service. Sure, sometimes they don't even deserve 15%. But if they get shorted by me on the tip, I think they're less likely to attribute it to their poor service than they are to associate bad tipping with stingy Christian patrons. (The after-church crowd is notorious for stiffing the restaurant help.)
There's one last thing I do, and it may be the most important. As I'm walking out, I make a point to find the waiter or waitress and simply say, "Thank you." It's a small gesture, but I want their last impression of me to be as pleasant as their first.
What's the real goal behind this modest effort? Simply this: People are important to the Lord, and if they are important to Him, they should be important to you and me.
Addressing a person by their name and showing genuine appreciation for service are simple ways to show that they are valued. This speaks volumes about the One you represent. Never underestimate the role of simply being warm and pleasant.
How do they know I'm a Christian? Maybe they don't. I don't always have a Bible with me, and I don't personally wear religious jewelry or shirts with Christian slogans.
However, since we always bow our heads to give thanks at our table, and the server may overhear snatches of conversation about spiritual things, it's certainly possible they'll make the connection. The last thing I want anyone to do is associate my prayer or my Bible or my Christian tract with rudeness, stinginess, or a demanding, high-maintenance customer.
It may be that we never get around to spiritual mattersin point of fact, we usually don't. Even so, I still want to leave behind a "fragrant aroma" for the sake of Christ. That's one of the reasons Paul says in Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus"that is, as His representative and consistent with His wishes.
Thank you for the friend you are to Stand to Reason. We deeply appreciate your generosity on our behalf. Your gifts make our work at STR possible.
At this critical time with the beginning of a new year would you consider sending a special gift to Stand to Reason? Your gift sent today in the enclosed envelope will help us to move forward in 2001 and meet the challenges God is bringing our way.
And please don't forget to pray for us, daily if you can.
Grateful for you,
President, Stand to Reason
P.S. You know, I really believe that if you practice the kind of simple things I've just talked aboutspending a few extra minutes valuing someone you've come in contact withyou'll be on your way to becoming a warm, attractive ambassador for Christ. It's really that simple.