Last week Mark Tidwell spoke at Ken Boa’s Bible Study in Atlanta. Please, when you have forty-two minutes, watch Mark’s talk at http://www.kenboa.org/video/2013-01-30-wed/–nothing I could write today will have the impact of Mark’s story. And he has a powerful book, Leave A Mark. http://www.leaveamarknow.com/
Mark emphaszied a word that has been resonating with me for some time: intentional.
To me it means that we take every opportunity we are given to communicate truth. In our writing, speaking, and most of all in our one-on-one (or one-on-a few) encounters.
Not holier-than-thou. Not with antagonism. Not a broken record. Not so that others don’t want to be around us. Just the opposite. With calm communication and affirmation.
Intentionally making the most of every opportunity applies to discussions on all subjects—spirituality, economics, family, policies, politics—every area where truth is needed. From talking with our children to Dr. Ben Carson speaking recently at the National Prayer Breakfast.
Intention sometimes takes courage.
But it is critical for people to hear the truth.
I wonder what it was like to grow up as a young person a hundred years ago, before radio, television, the internet, etc. interfered with conversations between family members and friends.
For example, I imagine that by age twenty-five, from living rooms to porches, most young adults had on several occasions heard an older adult speak about how God had impacted his or her life—in a natural, low key conversation. So that the thought of turning to God seemed natural and reasonable.
How many young adults hear those words today? Not from movies, TV, news, video games, or government schools. Those powerful sources intend not to mention God or Christ, except in a negative way.
So we must intentionally offer the alternative, and not be afraid to do so.
I’ve found two important tools to communicating truth in a way that uplifts and encourages further discussion:
- Personal Testimony. It’s difficult for others to argue with your experiences. And in this post-modern world of relative truth, people are at least used to giving you the opening to share your perspective. I’ve found that when I have the chance to speak eternal truth into a relative truth opening, it often has a profound effect. I believe that we have a God-given affinity for eternal truths—there is usually just a lot of “stuff” in the way of acceptance.
- Questions, or the “Columbo Approach”. Instead of telling people how they should live or what they should do, ask them about situations in their lives. Then ask, “How’s that working out for you?’ And don’t say another word until they answer, no matter how long it takes. Usually there will be an opening or actual invitation for a meaningful discussion.
But whatever the approach in a particular situation, the key is to be intentional about speaking the truth, and not worrying about the consequences. In all things God keeps the score. He just expects us to suit up every day, show up, and engage.