3. Pray for wisdom and discernment.
Pray that as you meet people and listen to their stories, God will give you wisdom and discernment to be able to see each person the way He sees them.
James 1:5 (NIV) says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all, without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
If you ask God for wisdom to see people in this way, He will give it to you.
4. Listen for their desire to vent, or their desire to learn.
Sometimes, people will seem like they’re interested in talking to you about God or faith, but really they just want you to be a sounding board for their problems (with the church, or just general problems in life). Pay attention to this.
Are they trying to get you to be on their “side,” by complaining about their spouse, or their kids, or their job? Or are they really trying to learn?
Do they listen to what you’re telling them? Do you see the fruit of it in their life? Are they hungry for truth and change?
If not, chances are they aren’t ready for the message you have for them. You can listen carefully and try to redirect them from their negativity, but more than likely, they won’t stick around very long.
Shake the dust of your feet. It’s not your fault. You did everything you could. (See #1)
5. Have another wise, trusted person with you when you meet with them.
It’s a really good idea, when you can, to bring another wise, trusted person with you. That way you avoid the risk of getting carried away by your own emotions, or being derailed by the tricks of the enemy, or having the people walk away saying you said something you didn’t say.
Often, these conversations happen over a long period of time—they’re less like a one-time-event, and more like an ongoing dialogue—and, if that’s the case, you won’t always be able to have someone with you.
But I recommend you bring someone into the process with you, so you aren’t the only person speaking truth into this person’s life, and so you have another brother or sister in Christ who is hearing what is being said, and to help you in how it’s being said.