Making small talk with strangers is not easy for many of us. When a young adult, the question, “What do you do for a living?” served me very well as a conversation starter. After my ordination to ministry, a problem developed when my question was turned back to me. As a single woman on the dance floor, I would answer, “I’m a United Church Minister.” Conversation stopped altogether. Not only could I see the expression on my dance partner’s face, I could feel his body stiffen, as he pushed me out to arm’s length. As soon as the song ended, he would politely return me to my seat. The judgment was made.
Countless times, I have heard, “You don’t act like a minister. You’re fun. You dance. You’re a regular person. It’s not just ministers/pastors who are judged. If we claim that we go to church regularly, eyes glaze over. We know they’re thinking, “Oh yes. You’re one of those.” Jesus ran into a similar problem. People said to him, “You can’t be a religious person. You have the wrong friends. You have too much fun. You forgive people…
I’ve been ordained for 22 years now, and one thing I’ve learned. When people step past their initial reaction, whatever it is, claiming my faith commitment opens doors. It’s almost as if the person has been waiting to have a conversation deeper than the weather, sports or the current reality show. When I have the courage to claim who I am, and the ability to relax and accept whatever reaction that entails, I often make a new friend, have an opportunity to increase understanding, and sometimes even to share my faith in God. Try it, you will be amazed.
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord…” 2 Timothy 1:7-8