The weather this week has been so deliciously cool! The temperatures began dropping Sunday night, and on Monday morning we awoke to perfect chilliness. The air conditioner was turned off, the windows were flung open, and some family members even pulled out jackets! The kids headed outside to play as soon as their morning chores were done (in record time, no less!), and stayed out there almost all day. Never once did they come in soaked in sweat or red-faced from the heat. Then evening arrived, and all three freshly bathed children found their favorite fall pajamas and donned them with great delight.
Yes, the coolness has been received with much joy at our house!
But, I had forgotten something about cool weather. When the cool weather comes, the fluorescent lights get sluggish. They still work fine, but they need a little extra time to “warm up.” I stepped into the bathroom on Tuesday morning to shower and I thought we’d lost a bulb because the lights were so dim when I first flipped the switch. Before too long, though, the light warmed up and the bathroom brightened.
Using the fluorescent lights in the winter isn’t difficult – it just takes a little bit of extra forethought. I need to remember to turn on the closet light a couple of minutes before I really need to see in there. I need to multi-task when it’s time to put on make-up, maybe flipping on the light and then blow-drying my hair for a couple of minutes while the light reaches its full brightness. It just takes a little thought. And, it takes knowing what to expect.
Isn’t it amazing how something as simple as a temperature drop can affect the productivity of lights? And yet, all it takes to counteract that productivity change is an awareness of the situation. That awareness can keep us from finding ourselves with a problem on our hands.
The same principle is a profound part of sharing the Gospel of Christ in this world. We often try to take a single approach and make it apply to a wide variety of ministry options. But, one simple little issue can totally change the dynamics of how well that ministry approach works.
So, what is the solution? The same as with the fluorescent lights: knowing what to expect.
Now, I know that we can’t always anticipate what to expect when we’re walking into a new ministry situation. (Note: I’m using ministry very broadly – if you are a Christian, you are involved in ministry in this context.) That’s why two things are critical. 1) A relationship with the One who is never surprised. God always knows what a situation is going to require. Abide in Him, and He will give you the wisdom you need. 2) A willingness to establish relationships instead of rushing into a solution. I cannot waltz into the country club and expect to reach people with the same presentation that would impact a group of factory workers. But, if I follow Paul’s example, I can develop relationships with country clubbers and factory workers alike. Then, I can know how to minister to each set of people.
Attentiveness, awareness, and preparation are essential to reaching this world. The slightest thing can change the conditions in which we find ourselves. We can adapt to those changing conditions if we are willing to put a little time into it. Will we be willing to take that time? We’ll be amazed at just how productive we can be if we do!