Learn to Say What is Appropriate

question-markSo what is appropriate?

A man visits his friend in the hospital. His friend has just undergone heart surgery. The man begins telling his friend, who is barely out of recovery, about other friends of his who died within weeks after having the same surgery. Is this really appropriate?

A woman confides in her co-worker regarding her marital problems. The co-worker takes it upon herself to call her friend’s husband and tell him about that conversation. Is this appropriate?

A student is angry with one of her teachers over a failing grade. Late one evening, she drives to her teacher’s home, sees that all the lights are off and lets the air out of the tires of each vehicle in the driveway. Is that appropriate?

A guy in his early 30s is known as quite a flirt at work. (He is married with two small children.) One day he begins to tease one of his customers. He and the customer begin telling each other jokes that started out fairly mild but ended up being very raunchy. Is this appropriate?

A minister is preparing his message for Sunday. His congregation is located in a university community. This is the first Sunday of the semester, and many students and their parents will be in the assembly before the parents return home that afternoon. For some reason, this minister has decided that on this particular Sunday he will preach on the “Qualifications of Elders.” Really? Is this appropriate with so many guests present for the first time?

People who wish to speak and act in appropriate ways are willing to learn. After all, no one knows what is appropriate in every instance.

Five Suggestions for Gracious Living

dolphin_ocean_picture.jpgA number of years ago, I was in a gathering of about ten Christians from around the country.  All of us were being transported to Pepperdine University.  In one of the seats near the front was best-selling author Max Lucado.  Near Lucado was an Old Testament professor from a seminary in the mid-South.  The two men introduced themselves to one another.  I overheard the OT prof ask Lucado, "Now what do you do?"  Lucado responded by saying, "I’m a writer."  The OT prof then asked, "Really?  What have you written?"

 

At that point the entire van became very, very quiet.  "What have you written?"  All of us, I think, felt a little awkward at that point.  Max Lucado is, after all, one of the best-selling Christian authors in the nation.  We were also wondering how he would respond.  His response?  Max quietly gave the man a few titles.  He went on to say that his books were not academic works but written more on a popular level.

 

I remember getting off that van a few minutes later and being quite impressed.  I was primarily impressed with Max Lucado’s graciousness.

 

Here are five suggestions for gracious living:

 

1.  Do whatever you can to help people relax when they are in your presence.  The other day, I heard a person compliment an individual who is very high profile in some circles.  This man said, "He’s just a regular guy."  I understand his statement.  This person goes out of his way to help others relax when they are in his presence.

 

2.  Never seek to embarrass someone because they are not aware of something.  Don’t ever say, "I can’t believe you don’t know who _____ is?"  or "I can’t believe you’ve never been to______!"  

 

3.  Take the initiative to speak to people who seemingly have little or nothing to offer you.  Many people would like to meet the famous, the celebrities, the well-known, etc.  Many of us love to have "important" people in our lives.  Yet, gracious people see people like Jesus did, as men and women who are very valuable, regardless of what they do in life.

 

4.  Pay attention and show interest in people.  Do you know that taking five minutes to pay attention to someone during a conversation can be very, very meaningful?  In fact, it is much more meaningful than taking fifteen minutes to talk with someone while your mind is elsewhere.

 

Last Sunday, I was walking through our auditorium just before our morning worship service began.  I saw an older couple who are going through some heartache with one of their grandchildren.  I sat next to them and paid attention to them for about three or four minutes.  I tried to really listen to their words and to their emotions.   I think the time was meaningful.

 

5.  Pay attention to what Jesus might be doing in various conversations.  Think about Jesus living and reigning today and working through you.  If he were to encounter this particular person, what would he say?  Would he just say "hello" and then move on to his friends or on to someone more important?  Or, would he engage this person in conversation?  What does he wish to do through you as you talk with this particular person?