For an extrovert, the best part of working in a hotel is meeting people. Unlike my wife, I get excited about interacting with strangers. To me, everyone is a potential friend, and I get excited when a conversation moves past, “Hello!”
Recently, I was walking the halls of the hotel when I noticed an older couple looking for the bathroom. We have two public restrooms, but the one they found was out of order. I helped them find the other restroom, and went on to other tasks.
Later, I was walking through the restaurant greeting customers. The older couple was sitting at one of the tables.
“Thank you for your help,” the woman said.
“You’re welcome,” I replied.
The man chimed in, “You have a good eye for people who need help.”
“Thank you,” I responded, “Where are you all from?”
“We’re from Connecticut,” said the woman, “and we’re on our way to Florida. How about you?”
“I grew up around here.”
“Oh really,” she said, “Where did you go to school?”
“I went to a small Christian school in Swannanoa.”
“Oh so you’re a Christian,” she said, “I’m Jewish, but I like Christians. I like their movies and books because they still promote good values. Are you going to become a pastor?”
The question took me by surprise. It’s not like all Christians become pastors, and it seemed like a jump for her to assume that since I went to a Christian elementary school I was going to become a pastor. Before I responded, she continued…
“You just have that personality,” she said.
“Actually, I’m in seminary right now,” I responded, “But I don’t know what I’m going to do when I finish. I like it here, especially because I get to meet people like you. But if God wants me to be a pastor that’s okay too.”
“Either way you’ll do good,” she said.
From there, the conversation turned to what they should do while in town. I gave them A LOT of recommendations (I’m quite the fan of my hometown). Over all, our conversation ended up around 15 minutes long, a long time to talk to strangers, but a short time among friends.
Later that night, I realized something about Intentional Christianity: Intentional Christianity begins by being intentional. I know what you’re thinking, “Uh duh!” But consider my interaction with the couple from Connecticut. The door to conversation was not opened by typical Christian methods (sharing the Gospel, preaching a sermon, missionary work), the door to conversation opened because of my original interaction with them. I could have kept walking the halls, and assumed that they would find the other bathroom. But by stopping and helping them in the hallway, I was given an opportunity to have a longer conversation in the Restaurant.
More than that, it confirmed an assumption that I’ve been trying to live out–that the people God wants Christians to minister to are not often found in the Church. If I had continued in my previous journey–being in a tight Christian bubble of going to church, working in a ministry and being at home with my Christian family–chances are I would not have met a Jewish woman from Connecticut. Because of my job, however–a job that some would deem “secular”–I got to enjoy a positive conversation with a woman of another faith, who now connects Christianity with a person who cared enough to help.
Today, you’re going to run into similar “ministry” opportunities. Those situations won’t look like “ministry” or feel like “ministry.” Yet, every interaction with every person is an opportunity to be intentional. Don’t look past the cashier at Walmart or your coworkers. If you normally use a credit card to pay for gas, use cash today so you get a chance to talk to the attendant. Ask God to give you eyes to see and ears to hear what the Holy Spirit would lead you to do today.
Who are the people God is leading you to talk to?
It could be that they’re looking for the bathroom, and by helping them you will have an opportunity to talk to them. And by talking to them they will figure out you’re a Christian. And if they walk away feeling like the conversation was positive, well, you just introduced Jesus as a positive. All because you took time to be intentional and help them.
That’s pretty cool!