My best friend joined the Army because he lost a bet with his recruiter. The recruiter joined us in a game of 21, during which he “failed” to play up to our level. Afterward, he challenged my friend to a game of one-on-one—if my buddy lost, he agreed to travel to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in Columbus to take the aptitude test, complete his physical, and swear in. That game turned into a 23-year Army career. The 5’7” recruiter played college ball (on scholarship) at Arkansas, which he divulged after his win.
A year later, I walked into the office of a Marine recruiter who had been picking my brain for weeks. His eyes lit up when he told me a story about his Gunny who served as a sniper in Vietnam.
Almost 20 years later, I smiled while receiving recognition at my wife’s Navy retirement ceremony. (Yeah, the story about snipers and war didn’t work to recruit this guy.)
I’m sure that sniper story worked to bring in other people, but it was the wrong conversation to pique my interests. My friend’s recruiter understood how to keep him engaged. The recruiter knew what was needed to get my buddy to the next step. He was a good ambassador for the Army.
2 Corinthians 5:20
So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
Paul reminds us that we represent God’s purpose out in the world. As ambassadors, we do more than repeat what we hear in church—we move beyond our own interests. Paul also chooses his words carefully to demonstrate the power of God. Jesus, who didn’t sin, was made an offering for our sin. In the NIV translation, it reads, “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” His was and is the ultimate act of love. He put us (sinners) first. God understands our needs.
As I think back to the two recruiting stories, I understand a little more of how my friend and I took different paths. My temperament is blue. I need safety, space, and silence. I only heard chaos in my recruiter’s words. His interests weren’t mine. We must approach our conversations with others in a manner to meet their needs. As ambassadors, we must be more mindful, especially when engaging with younger generations. In the words of the poet, Propaganda, from his spoken word “Raise the Banner,” “We should consider our influence because the little ones want to be us.”
Do you try to understand the needs of others before jumping into a conversation or relationship? Do you think about what and who you are representing out in the world?
Take the temperament assessment if you haven’t already. Study it to better understand what your needs are. Ask family and friends what color they received to gain a better understanding of them. Don’t always be so quick to respond in every conversation; instead, choose your words wisely.
God, thank you for your righteous act of love. Thank you for allowing us to be your ambassadors. Remind us that our movement in this world is to serve your purpose, and to do so is an honor. We have a choice to make with every conversation we have. Our words are powerful. May our thoughts behind our words be purposeful. Amen.
This post was written by Jaron Camp, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.
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