After a little Over a year in Barrouallie (arrived September 7, 2015) I’m used to the way things are done and have seen the Lord open many doors of ministry. However I still struggle with small-talk….and I’m learning that is a HUGE part of missions.
I’m an introvert at heart which means taking the first step in communication is difficult, but after that talking is a lot easier. People have said when they first met me they tried to make me talk, but after that they tried to get me to shut up :-).
Being an introvert means small-talk is difficult to begin (especially when I don’t know people) and quite often leads to awkwardness. I find myself agreeing with author Sammy Rhodes
If I could have any superpower, it would be the ability to do small talk well, because anyone who does it well is a superhero as far as I’m concerned. I’m more like the Aquaman of small talk: people don’t remember much about me except that I’m weird. “From This is Awkward” by Sammy Rhodes
The thing about small-talk (having an extended conversation with others ) is difficult even for extroverted people because it’s filled with things like awkwardness, uncomfortable silences, or lulls in the conversation. Maybe the reason this is so hard (and why I’m so bad at it) is many of us no longer view small-talk as an important part of life.
A very important lesson the Lord has taught me during my time in Barrouallie is small talk is ministry. Last week I wrote a post about my view of ministry as activity (why I need a day off). This activity centered philosophy caused me to not only views things like study or writing as unimportant because there’s no direct ministry, but at times viewed small-talk as laziness.
In my mind since small-talk is wasn’t part of ministry and it led to awkwardness there wasn’t any place for it in life;
I have never been more wrong
Yesterday during one of my afternoon walks the Lord convicted me about the fact that I don’t know the names of over 50% of the people who greet me in Barrouallie . Everyone happens to know my name (has to do with the fact that I’m one of the only white people in town) but ever time they say “good afternoon” I always respond with “buddy, pal, brother” or something like that. A few seconds after realizing that a thought came into my mind…
How can you reach someone with the Gospel if you don’t even know their name?
It’s true that Churches don’t support me so that I can sit down and talk with people all day, but it’s also true that NEVER sitting down and talking with them is a huge detriment to ministry. I’m thankful for the conviction of God yesterday that led me to turn off all my electronics, leave my phones at home, and just take a walk this morning. A walk where more than once I said “I’m so sorry but I completely forgot your name.”