Playing The Long Game Kyle Asmus
March 5, 2018
I’m not from around here—I’m a Midwest kid. I grew up in “fly-over” country where life can seem simpler and the people friendlier. As you can imagine, moving to Boston 3 years ago was a bit of a culture shock. It wasn’t worse or better; it was just different.
I think the difference can be most clearly seen in people’s openness and closed-offness. Minnesotans have a pesky habit of being overly friendly and talkative with complete strangers. Asking someone about their weekend could lead to a 30 minutes conversation ending with information about their second cousin’s parole hearing.
The opposite is true in New England.
If I nicely ask someone how their day is going here they’ll quickly shoot back, “Fine,” and keep on their way.
Initial interactions can be tough in New England, but the beautiful thing is that substantive conversations become much more authentic and real given enough time and relational capital invested into the relationship.
You just have to put in the time.
When the desire is to talk to someone about the Gospel, you need to be willing to play the long game. It can be burdensome and frustrating, but it’s also so worth it.
I was reminded afresh of this reality earlier this week.
Gary (not his real name), is a 65-year-old gentleman that I’ve consistently crossed paths with in the gym locker room over the past 3 years. Gary is lobster. He’s got a crusty shell that seems nearly impenetrable when it comes to talking about God, faith, or the like. I’ve tried time and time again to initiate spiritual conversation to no avail.
I saw Gary in the locker room earlier this week and we started small talking about the Patriots. During the conversation, I felt a nudge to ask him about his mother. So, I abruptly ended the sports talk and inquired about the state of his mother’s health. It turned out she passed away 3 weeks ago.
To my surprise, Gary opened up about the pain, guilt, and hurt that he was processing. He apparently trusted me enough to be honest.
This was so clearly an opportunity for the Gospel. For the next thirty minutes, in a locker room, I shared the Gospel with Gary.
By the time the conversation ended he was crying, I was crying, and we were both late for work.
To the best of my knowledge, Gary didn’t give his life to Christ that morning, but the point remains: I had to go through 3 years of small talk to enjoy a real, authentic conversation with him. We talked about sports, the weather, and his kids before he trusted me enough to talk about his hurts and pains.
I had to play the long game.
I’m realizing that small talk isn’t the same as insignificant talk. It really isn’t what you’re talking about that matters. What matters is that you’re talking! This is building trust and relationships, and when the moment is right, the Gospel will go forth!