…..Continued from Zeal Without Knowledge
The Cantankerous Catholic in an X-ray Room
I at times jeopardized my job trying to tell people about Jesus. Before I was a full-time missionary I was working as a Radiologic Technologist at a certain Hospital in Pennsylvania, USA. In my line of work people were always coming to me in extreme pain, often after automobile accidents etc. I can remember this one particular Catholic lady who came through the department. She was quite the cantankerous woman and she was in terrible pain. At this time in my life I felt like it was my duty to try to talk to everyone about their eternity. This poor helpless soul had no idea what was awaiting for her this day. As I was taking her x-rays I forced the conversation towards the Gospel. She was not in a good frame of mind because of all her pain, and I felt like it was necessary to remind her of all the pain and torments of hell (how she must have had a vivid experience of it at that moment) if she would not become a born-again Christian. I was rather short with her and almost militant. I lacked tact, compassion, and did not come even close to winning her to Jesus Christ. This woman RIGHTLY made a formal complaint to my boss about my conduct. My boss was very gracious to me as she sat me down in her office and explained what the problem was. Now in my ignorant zeal I proclaimed to my boss that those things were “not going to stop happening because it was my duty to share my faith”. She tried to reason with me that it was fine to share my faith at work when other people brought up the subject, but that my first and foremost focus while at work was to do what I was being paid for. Now, this was the Word of the Lord to me from my boss, but I was a
Picture : Preaching in Zambia – the Subject was “How to Share Your Faith with Others”.
bit too thick-headed to receive it from her, “after all she was not even born-again herself, what does she know?” She gave me some very wise advice – why don’t you talk to your pastor about this? I did talk to my pastor, and amazingly he agreed with my boss. Now, my pastor had an opportunity here to either really quench my zeal through a stern rebuke, or help me to focus my zeal and learn some wisdom to balance my zeal. I am grateful that my pastor did not crush me under the weight of a harsh tongue-lashing. Even though I was wrong in what I did, I did it for all the right reasons and with all the right motives. My pastor recognized that and fanned my zeal with some Godly wisdom. Perhaps you have a “Peter” working under you and you have the same opportunity. Please remember, ZEAL is not the problem. He needs some wisdom and some tact.
“Tact means “touch”. A touch on the right spot rather than on the wrong spot. A touch that wins rather than one that repels. A touch that draws rather than drives. A warm, heart-to-heart personal interest, rather than a cold, well-reasoned, conclusive argument” (Wood 73). Tact to me is being mindful of the situation and circumstances the person finds themselves in and adapting his method of evangelism to that situation. Adaptation does not imply compromise. I have learned through my situations at work that there is a right time and a wrong time to try to witness to someone. There is also a way that we can attempt to witness that will drive people away – as I did with the cantankerous Catholic. Some people will be repelled by the Gospel itself that is not what I am referring to. I am saying that we should do as much as possible to make the message receivable without compromising the standards of the Gospel. Because of my harshness and bluntness in the scenario I repelled this woman from the Gospel and me.
…To Be Continued
– Pastor Justin Steward