No matter how hard you try to come across as a “safe” person to those you reach out to, some will not receive your offer of service. That is an unalterable reality. But don’t fret. There are some proven steps I’ve found that work well for dealing with harsh people.
1. The Forrest Gump-Andy Griffith Response.
It’s never a good idea to return fire with fire. Instead, put on a combination smile and blank response. You might practice this response with others on your team. You might be more of a natural arguer – that’s my natural inclination but it doesn’t work well. I’ve managed to abate other’s anger thrown my way many times and in fact I’ve been able to later return to the same place with the same personnel and find them willing to allow us to serve them!
2. Keep on keeping on.
The one thing we can’t entertain is the possibility of giving up. The end of Paul’s verse above regarding giving up is the quip, “for we shall reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Keep that promise in your heart. There is a harvest before you and your team. Remind your team that we are doing something that blesses the heart of God. When we reach out we are doing the ministry of Jesus – that is amazing!
3. Realize what is happening beneath the surface with those you serve.
Sometimes the most angry, nearly violent responses come from the very people who are being the most profoundly worked on the most by the Spirit of God. Keep that fact before you. If people are lackadaisical, ho hum regarding your outreach attempts you might be register with their souls. Remind your team that they need to proceed by faith, not sight, and serve with enthusiasm regardless of the surface of response.
4. Release the hound of heaven on them.
Francis Thompson wrote a poem with this title about the pursuit of the Holy Spirit – how he pursues people with power and faithfulness. When we serve, according to Paul in Romans 2:4, “the kindness of God leads to repentance.” Something supernatural is released upon their lives. It’s not our job to make sure everyone we reach out to is efficiently followed up on. If you read the Book of Acts it is obvious that many of those exposed to the Gospel were followed up on by the Holy Spirit in sovereign ways that only God could arrange. In other words, don’t sweat it! Your extra efforts won’t change things in any case. It is the ministry of the Spirit to see to it that people come into the Kingdom, not yours. Do what you can, then relax, smile and continue to plant, water and harvest as the opportunity presents itself.
5. Tell your story!
Chances are some haven’t had a 100% successful day of outreach. Sometimes an encouraging conversation will un-empower the work of the Enemy that might otherwise scare the daylights out of people. A friendly sharing time will allow them to realize they didn’t fail but that it was probably just that the person they connected with who was having a bad day.
5.5 Eat a taco.
Stop at Taco Bell (or wherever) and connect with others on your team and download regarding your outreach experiences regarding what happened. Why a taco versus a burger at Wendy’s? You can eat like a king at Taco Bell for about $1.95!