Winter arrived in Monterrey with a bang this week. As a result, we joined the shivering throng at our local giant hardware chain (Australian readers: think Bunnings on steroids) to buy a heater. We were served by Sergio1 who spoke excellent English, who had wonderful customer service skills, who knew very little about heaters and who got me thinking about evangelism.
I asked Sergio how he came to have such good English, and during the conversation, we learned that, in fact, he was the national human resources manager for the entire hardware chain—a big shot executive working on the shop floor, which is part of their national corporate policy.
Once we started asking about heater efficiency, recommended floor area and approximate fuel cost, it was clear that Sergio’s expertise was in HR, not heaters. Despite being out of his depth, he remained cheerful, was willing to help and do research for us, and continually asked the regular shop staff around him. Eventually we got the heater we needed, we felt well looked after, and we will be returning to the store next time we need hardware.
I’m sure you’re glad I’m warm, but what has this got to do with evangelism?
Sometimes I wonder if the fear of being asked a question we can’t answer prevents us from sharing our love of Jesus with our friends. We are worried that if we bring Jesus into the conversation, we’ll be asked a curly question, and maybe as a result, we’ll look like a bit of a goose, so we choose to keep quiet.
But a lack of knowledge or a fear of not knowing the answer didn’t stop Sergio. When we started asking questions he couldn’t answer, he wasn’t put off at all. He kindly and genuinely served us, and went out of his way to find answers to each of our questions. In between times, he warmly took an interest in our lives and shared his own life. Not only that, but at the end of our conversation, he invited us to investigate more products—an in-store loyalty card and a credit program.
Perhaps we all need to take a leaf out of Sergio’s book.
Try starting the conversation rather than remaining silent. Be genuinely interested in people, and continue to serve them. If you’re asked a question you don’t know the answer to, don’t clam up, but suggest a possibility, do some research and keep the conversation alive. And sometimes try suggesting something additional—a book to read, a talk to listen to or a further issue to think about.
Thanks for the heater, Sergio, and thanks for the stimulating conversation.