During my senior year of college, a friend and I went out to grab a bite to eat. He was a theology major, and we met in College Algebra. After a few weeks, we met up each Thursday for tutoring. Since we both struggled with Math, we became friends and occasionally studied for exams together. On one particular night, we decided to grab a sandwich before returning to our dreaded algebra equations. After securing a booth, we began to look over the menu before our waitress appeared; we placed our orders and made friendly chit-chat.
My friend, zealous for Christianity, began making conversation and asked our waitress if she went to church. Politely smiling, she replied that she’d grown up in the church but had not attended for years. He questioned her further, asking why she had left. I cast a glance in his direction, hoping he would make eye contact. The young woman fidgeted with a nervous smile before stating that she’d gotten out of the habit of attending church. I could sense her anxious body language and tried to redirect the topic to food, but my classmate was persistent.
“You should come to my Bible study this Wednesday. I’d love to talk with you about Christ!”
Our waitress, clearly uncomfortable, shook her head and replied, “No, thank you. That’s alright. I’d better get your orders in.”
The young woman disappeared and avoided our table for most of the evening. Still unphased, my classmate remained determined.
“When the waitress comes back, ask for her number.”
His persistence hung in the air as we sat in awkward silence.
“I don’t think asking for her number would be appropriate. She is not interested, and I don’t want to invade her privacy.”
“If I ask for her number, it’ll appear as if I’m too friendly. You need to ask for it!”
I folded my napkin into little squares, hoping he overlooked the heat rise in my face. “I’m not asking for her number. She already said no.”
“Maddie, I cannot believe you! Don’t you want her to go to Heaven?”
I stared in disbelief. His determination made me uncomfortable; why couldn’t he take no for an answer? When the evening came to a close, I replayed my classmate’s words over and over again. Was I wrong for feeling frustration toward his tenacity?
Leading By Example
This particular encounter continues to puzzle me years later. It wasn’t his passion for Christ that bothered me; it was his inability to see the waitress’s discomfort. My classmate’s persistent approach to the young woman’s response felt invasive and forceful, ultimately leaving me with a bitter taste in my mouth.
While it is not inherently wrong to share the love of Jesus, we need to lead by example and avoid coercion. Although we should evangelize, we must be mindful of others and not take advantage if they appear uncomfortable. We should always be receptive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and doors of opportunity while extending the same liberty that Christ extends to us—the power of choice.
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Madeleine Lowe writes from Indiana.© 2002 - 2022, AnswersForMe.org. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.