At Steve Sjogren’s Serve site, I found the following helpful skills to tuning in on other’s lives in the context of “good deeds” from a Dr. Savant(?). Savant begins with a typical question asked by our volunteers, students or faculty–though of course we might want to see our friends drawn by the Spirt to repent and believe.

Dr. Savant, I have wanted God to use me in connecting with those far from God but have had little success. I have paid for coffee, done Valentine candy give aways, business blasts, etc. asking God to open doors but have few conversations with those far from God. I am not trying to convert anyone but I am looking for ways to connect with lost people in my community. What do you suggest?  Joe

I often teach by asking questions. Will you ponder some simple questions with me?

1. Are you able to ‘notice’ your way into people’s lives?

In other words, my guess is that as you show them kindness, the ball drops right there. People you show kindness to are surprised, maybe even flabbergasted. Most of the time they are not extroverted enough to engage you. My guess is you are not yet able to connect with them easily by catching on to the initial act of noticing your way forward.

2. Are you clearly describing to people you engage what is going on?

These are not stand alone projects. People need a bit of an explanation. “I pay for people’s coffees – to show them the kindness of God…”
There are dozens of ways to explain the kindness / generosity thing. I recommend you relax. Flow. Say what comes to mind at the moment. Be succinct. Most of all smile – and don’t try to be one bit clever. Trying to be too clever is the greatest impediment to God’s presence touching others.

3. Are you then verbally engaging people in a memorable way?

I do all you have described and after practicing at this have had discovered it is fairly doable to connect with most people. Here’s what I do:

Keep it safe / positive…Keep it focused upon them…Keep it away from closed ended matters… I rarely ask what they do for a living. It is fine to ask what they are studying though.

“Memorable” is simply what comes natural to you in your context. For me or anyone else to tell you exactly what to say, word for word is a bit odd. You do need a jumpstart, but from there you can remove your training wheels lest your bicycling is impeded.

Here are some starting points to ponder.

With a big smile (yes, practice your smile – non-smilers look like they are up to something – if it is not natural that’s okay – you can get over that…I should know – I did! Ask my mom! I spent my first 18 years being pretty darn serious… ) ask them their name. EVERYONE loves to hear their name! They can’t hear their name often enough. Once you’ve spoken it, repeat it. Upon leaving, use their name again, and say, “See you again before long (their name here).”

On the topic of their name, comment on the meaning of their name if you are familiar with that. Or how your favorite aunt has the same name – that reminds you of her gentleness… I do this very often. People love to hear this.

Ask where they got their tattoos. A fairly large percentage of people under age 35 have visible tatts now. By engaging with people about them, the meaning of them, you are showing them personal attention. This is good!

Comment on their great haircut – then ask where they get their hair cut – that you have been looking for a great place / your child / spouse has been looking for a place to get a great cut.

Lastly, sometimes we cannot see in ourselves how we come across to others well. As you can see in the cartoon image of me I have fuzzy hair and a walrus mustache. Some think I look smart (ask Mrs. Savant to get the real story on that!) I can intimidate people apparently though I wasn’t aware of that for years. For each of us we need friends who love us enough they will tell us the true truth about us – how others see us – that we can walk free from the things that ensnare us and keep us stuck.

Dr. Savant

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