Here’s a post I read a while ago that I’ve never forgotten. It’s one of those things that’s worked its way into my thought-life, my conversation, and my approach to sharing about Christ in way that’s been sort of life-changing. Justin Taylor posted the picture with the Muhammed Ali quote to the right, and the original post was written by a guy named Greg Koukl. Here it is:
In some circles there’s pressure for Christian ambassadors to “close the sale” as soon as possible. When pressed for time, get right to the meat of the message. Get to the Gospel. If the person doesn’t respond, you’ve still done your part. Shake the dust off your feet and move on.
A wise ambassador, though, “seasons his words.” He weighs his opportunities and adopts an appropriate strategy for each occasion. Sometimes, the simple truth of the cross is all that’s needed. The fruit is ripe for harvesting. Bump it and it falls into your basket.
Usually, though, the fruit is not ripe; the nonbeliever is simply not ready. He may not even have begun to think about Christianity in the right way. Dropping a message on him that, from his point of view, is meaningless or simply unbelievable doesn’t accomplish anything. In fact, it may be the worst thing you can do. He rejects a message he doesn’t understand and then he’s harder to reach next time.
Now here is my own more modest goal. I want to put a stone in his shoe. All I want to do is give him something worth thinking about. I want him to hobble away on a nugget of truth that annoys him in a good way, something he can’t simply ignore because it continues to poke at him.
Whether the opportunity is a short one with a transient audience or a long one with a captive audience, my goal is the same—a stone in the shoe.
Some people are good “closers.” They’re good at getting the sale. What they don’t realize is that harvesting often comes easily for them because, in God’s sovereignty, many ambassadors came before them planting, watering, and weeding, one by one tending to the plant, cultivating healthy growth until it was ripe and ready to reap.
So here’s my suggestion. Follow the strategy I use when God opens a door of opportunity for me. I don’t know how long the door will be open, so I pray quickly for wisdom, then ask myself, “In this circumstance, what is one thing I can say, one question I can ask, one thought I can leave that will get him thinking?”
Then I simply try to put a stone in his shoe.