Have I ever mentioned that I’m an introvert? Depending on which studies you read, estimates show that somewhere between 25% and 50% of people are. So I know I’m not alone. But even if I were alone, I’d be OK with that. (That’s a joke only the introverts will get!) But there is one aspect of being an introvert that bothers me. My wife, a classic extrovert, can strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere. That just doesn’t come to me naturally.
The reason that bothers me is because I know there are people all around us who do not know Jesus. And I also know that to share our faith, we have to build relationships. But to build relationships, we have to talk to people! I’ve never been very good at starting conversations with strangers. But I’m working on it. I’ve started doing several things:
I pray for opportunities. I try to pray every day that God will open up opportunities for me to have conversations with people I do not yet know.
I look for openings. Sometimes it will be something about the other person. For example, if someone is wearing a Patriots jersey, it is a perfect opportunity to ask if they saw the game. Once that conversation gets started, there is no stopping it.
I try to capitalize on delays. I was buying groceries the other day and found myself in the line with a bagger who was clearly a trainee. So the person ahead of me was all paid, but the cashier couldn’t start checking my groceries because there was a pile of items yet to be bagged. The checkout clerk was clearly uncomfortable that the person ahead of me, and I, were being held up. I could have impatiently thumbed through a magazine from the rack or checked my phone. But instead I broke through my introverted shell and struck up a conversation. It wasn’t deep or profound (it may have been related to cheese cake), but it was a start. Instead of being frustrated by the delay, I made the most of the moment. And I have no doubt that God will put me in this checkout clerk’s line again some time so we can continue the conversation.
I try to use people’s names. At the supermarket it’s easy. They all have name tags. At restaurants, if they don’t introduce themselves, I’ll ask. There is something about using a persons name that helps build a foundation for a friendship.
Here’s one last idea, notice and follow patterns. For example, if you go to the same gym, around the same time, on the same days, you will soon begin to see the same people. The same is often true of restaurants and other places of business. Seeing people repeatedly in a certain setting becomes an opportunity to build relationships.
So introverts, rise up. Even the likes of you and I can break through our walls, begin conversations and build relationships that can one day lead to opportunities to share our faith. If you pray for it, God will open the doors and give you the courage you need to step through.
There is a large prayer event occurring at the SNHU arena in Manchester on Sunday night, October 28th, from 6-8 p.m. It is sponsored by ifmypeoplene.org. There is no charge but they are encouraging registration.