There’s got to be a term for it – for that constant state of feeling like the newbie at church (despite regular attendance there for a few years). The feeling that says, “I don’t know half of these people here! I wonder why they haven’t come and introduced themselves to me yet?!” The feeling that says it’s someone else’s job to greet you at church and introduce themselves, after all, you’ve only been attending for a few years and these other people have surely been here longer and therefore the responsibility to greet “new folks” is in their hands and not yours. Anyone else know that feeling like I do?
I am undoubtedly guilty of this feeling far too often. The feeling of timidity comes washing over me, and I quickly find myself averting eyes or ducking into the bathroom or rushing to the side of a friend I already know. Yet, my heart truly longs to greet those friends that I do not yet know.
The fear of man and timidity has so often kept me from stretching out my hand and saying hello and thereby extending a piece of my heart to this unknown person. While this feels uncomfortable and I’d almost rather continue going about my known relationships or wait to meet people when a friend introduces me, I know that the Lord has been pressing this issue on my heart for a while now. I shouldn’t keep ignoring it. I know better.
The Lord has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline. (2 Tim. 1:7) Most Christians have probably heard that verse or something along those lines when faced with unknowns or uncertainties or situations which can make us fearful. It’s there to encourage us as believers. If we have received the Holy Spirit, then we have power, love and self-discipline within us!
As much as greeting someone new at church isn’t a greatly fearful circumstance as many other situations in life, it can still take on the effect of that debilitating fear which makes one frozen and unable to act. Unfortunately, it has for me time and time again. “I should not be afraid of saying hi to someone,” I tell myself. “It’s really not a big deal.” Yet, I allow myself to excuse my fear of man by telling myself that someone else will greet them, that someone else will probably sit with them, that they’re probably waiting for someone, or that I might have already greeted them before and have forgotten their name. Of course, I don’t want to make them feel like they weren’t important enough to remember! And so I let that Sunday at church go by without loving them by saying hello, without the self-discipline of stepping out of my comfort, and without the power of being bold.
It only takes a simple boldness to say hi to a stranger. A simple boldness to look into someone’s eyes and smile at them. A simple boldness to shake a hand. A simple boldness to ask for a name. A simple boldness to make someone else feel important. To make someone else feel loved. To make someone else feel noticed, accepted and welcome.
I have let the fear of man and feelings of timidity step in the way of showing a bold love towards a stranger. How about you? How many times have could-be friends left the church for the day feeling left-out and unnoticed because no one said hi or welcomed them in? How many times have new believers left feeling like Christians are not welcoming or hospitable and I didn’t do anything to help turn that notion around because I was hiding under the excuse that it was someone else’s job?
Recently, I approached a friend and let her know how much I admire her boldness and ability to walk up to people and greet them and get to know them. Her boldness to invite a stranger over or to a gathering and exchange numbers. I told her that I’ve watched her do it over and over again for years and that she encouraged me with her bold love. I know that God commands us to be hospitable and that it requires boldness in extending a hello and an invitation. I have that knowledge. I’ve watched my friend do it many times. I have that real-life example. And now? Now it’s time for me to practice it. I get to walk in power and boldness, in faith and love, and not be overcome with fear of man. Thank you, Lord for that promise!
Kayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with. Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery, and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop. She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family. Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance, and strength! She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot. You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.