“If you talk to a man in the language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Nelson Mandela – former South African president
This is true in all relationships – marriage, family, friendships, church or where you work. Good advice for public speakers and preachers alike. A truth we all need to learn. And especially if you want to increase your effectiveness when talking to others about the Lord Jesus.
Before telling others about Jesus listen to what language they speak. And, I don’t mean Russian , English or Japanese. Watch their body language, how they are dressed, who they are with, how they are acting. Then speak “their language” and speak to their hearts and not just their heads.
Some time ago I entered one of my favorite coffee shops (has a quiet corner for writing my daily blogs) and spotted an older man sitting by himself. I had seen him there a number of times before and there was always a lady with him (I assumed his wife). He was sitting alone this time. However, everything about his “language” told me that something was wrong – the way he looked, the way he sat, the way he held his head, the look in his eyes. So, I went over and asked if I could join him for a coffee as I had just purchased one and my favorite corner was occupied. He agreed. I listened further to his language as we briefly got to know each other. Something was wrong and his heart was heavy and sad.
In a brief conversation over one medium coffee (I must be getting old as can no longer drink an extra large or even a large) I discovered that his wife had just died and been buried and he was struggling with living as a single in a married world (his world at least) for the first time in 50+ years. I heard his heart and was able to speak his language – and I don’t mean English.
Christians should show the love of God and the compassion of the Lord Jesus in all their relationships. This is especially true even in “temporary” relationships which you begin in the hope of sharing the Good News. If you want to let people know that you really do love them and that they are not simply another ‘target’ or ‘trophy’ for you then watch carefully, look at who you are approaching and see what heart language they speak, and then listen first to see if you are right in your rapid assessment. Listen so that they know you care. Show them that you are sincerely interested in them (and not just interested in presenting your message) by “listening” to them, and then speak accordingly – speak their heart language.
The relationship may not remain “temporary” for long as you may find you win someone to the Lord and will then become involved in their lives as you disciple them in the Christian faith.