I am blessed to work for a company that invests time and money in developing and training their employees. As a result, I spent this past week away from my office at a company training. I have been to plenty of company trainings before, but this one was definitely my favorite. There was some business specific content, but most of the content was around personal reflection and growth. I found it to be very beneficial.
My favorite thing about the content of the course was that it required some deep interaction with our classmates. This offered me several opportunities to speak directly with others, both believers and nonbelievers, about my faith in Jesus Christ. As God always does, He strategically orchestrated the individuals that He wanted me to interact with throughout the training. I had the opportunity to spend most of my time with a specific individual, whom I’ll call “Todd”. Todd sat right next to me almost every day. The trainer told us to leave our nametags at our desk when we left class every day, so that the cleaning crew could come in and switch them around each night. The goal was to mix it up and ensure that we sat next to different people throughout the week. Yet, every day I came in and found my name next to Todd’s name.
Todd just happened to be one of the loudest and most boisterous individuals in the class. He would frequently cursed and make inappropriate comments. In fact, he was the only individual in a class of roughly 50 people that would regularly curse aloud in his responses in front of the entire class of his coworkers. Todd also admittedly had a very pessimistic attitude. Let’s just say, he was the opposite of the type of person that anyone would select to sit next to in such a class.
Nevertheless, throughout the week I found myself engaged in several deep discussions with Todd. Just about every time that the trainer asked us to discuss our responses with the person next to us, Todd heard something new about my faith in Jesus. It even sparked a couple of discussions where we went way off the course content and just started discussing faith. Todd and I grew unexpectedly close throughout the week.
On the very last day of the training, our small team of six people got to sit in a room and give each other constructive feedback about our leadership styles. I was going into that room, fully expecting to volunteer myself up to be the first one to receive feedback. However, Todd had different plans. He took control of the conversation immediately and began directing it. I watched him go around the table calling out everyone’s name. After everyone else had gone, Todd looked at me and said, “I saved you for last on purpose.”
Everyone else went around the table and gave their feedback first. One individual stated that my willingness to share my faith was very beneficial to him. He applauded my openness and transparency. Then it came to Todd. With a new intensity and deep sense of emotion I hadn’t seen from him the rest of the week, Todd looked right at me and said, “I saved you for last, because my feedback has very little to do with work. I was surprised to hear people say how open you were with them about your faith, because with me you seemed hesitant and reserved. Maybe it’s because you watched me and saw how I acted, and you thought you had to be. Regardless, you are a good person, and people need to know why that is. Your faith and conviction are obviously a big part of who you are, and people NEED to know that about you.”
After that interaction, I approached Todd to thank him. He actually grabbed me and gave me an unexpected hug. I thought about the whole week long and hard. I thought that I had been extremely open with Todd about my faith, but apparently, he wanted more. After much contemplation, I wrote down the following as a summary of what I felt Todd was really saying to me:
“I need what you have! I may not like it. I may not even want it right now, but I know that I need it. I need it, because people in the world are supposed to be like you. They are supposed to have your conviction, your peace, your courage, and your blessed reassurance. I don’t even know how I know that, but I just know. If you don’t tell people about why you live the way you do, then they won’t know!”
So I bring a question back to you, hoping that this story encourages you the way that it has encouraged me. Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ? Have you given Him your life? Have you seen your world radically transformed as a result of His love and mercy? Then guess what! People need what you have! They need to see Jesus Christ in the way you live, and they need to hear the good news from your lips. They need to know why you are full of peace, joy and love. They need to know why your life has been radically transformed. They are orphans searching for their father, just as you once were. People NEED what you have been given!
For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 2:15).