So, recently I’ve realized that it’s OK to admit that I don’t know what people are talking about and ask “stupid” questions. It’s been a major break though for me. I know, it should be obvious, but for me, this has been a big deal.
My recent exchange with Home Depot’s salesman in the door isle opened my eyes to a couple of things. 1 – it helped me laugh at my own hesitation to ask questions. 2 – it sparked a spiritual reflection (big shocker, right?)
ME: “So to install this entry door, I just pop the old one out and slide this one in?”
HD: “Yeah, you just slide it in, shim it, put the molding around it…”
ME: “SHIM IT?”
HD: “Yeah, real simple, just shim it.”
ME: “I’m sorry – what does it mean to shim something?”
HD: “You center it with a shim.”
ME: (laughing) “So… I still don’t know what a shim is whether you use it as a noun or as a verb…”
HD: “It’s a wooden wedge. A piece used to fill the gaps.”
ME: “Got it. Thanks.”
How many times do we as Christ-followers, ministers, leaders, or as organizations, churches, and ministries have “shimmy” communication? Are we using language that is meaningless to our audience – even in one-on-one conversation? We think we’re explaining simple truths (and we may be) but we’re using a vocabulary that has no context in their daily life.
I’m not suggesting that we dumb anything down, but we should be aware of what we’re assuming is common knowledge. This is the key – NOTHING IS COMMON KNOWLEDGE. At least not in terms of discipleship.
Don’t let people feel dumb and walk away intimidated, never intending to pursue this “Jesus thing” any further simply because you spoke to them in a way that made them feel inferior or at least like an outsider. Obviously the Holy spirit is ultimately the One opening people’s hearts and minds to the truth of the gospel, but as Christ-followers, we should be making disciples everywhere we go. (Matt 28:19-20) This means explaining and modeling truth in a way that helps people each step along the way.