Hallway Conversations

Rob Stroup
Written by Rob Stroup

Pastor Hurst and I were meeting briefly the other day when he made this comment, “It is not the meetings in the office that concern me most, but the times I get stopped in the hallway that I really pray for the Lord to give me the right response.”

Have you ever walked away from a conversation kicking yourself for not having the best reply on the tip of your tongue? Impromptu discussions can be a minefield for the person trying to please the Lord in every part of life. It is easier to construct our responses when we have a scheduled meeting and we think ahead to what might come up in a conversation. Time is our friend. But often we have important talks in the hallway between Sunday School and church, or on the way to choir practice or out to the parking lot. When someone stops in the hall to share a prayer request or concern, a pastor needs to be ready with a heart of compassion and the wisdom that God gives. A wrong word, facial expression, or tone can send a message that should never come from a Christian, let alone a man of God. For a pastor, the concern is that he might respond in the flesh and discourage someone from following the Lord, or encourage them to rush into a foolish direction. In each Sunday morning pastoral prayer meeting, this is part of our prayers. We ask God to fill us with His Holy Spirit throughout the day, not only in the prepared sermons and lessons, but in the “hallway conversations.”

The importance of right responses is not exclusively the burden of the pastor. Any person professing Christ as Savior needs to be filled with the Holy Spirit in the same way. Our spouses, neighbors, co-workers, friends and families need a godly influence from us every day.

How do we react when someone shares a burden with us? Does our response demonstrate concern or disregard? If they are looking for wisdom, do we have any to share? Whether it is a crying child hurt by words on the playground, or a spouse reminding us of a project at home, we need the Holy Spirit to help us to reply in a righteous, loving way. When the neighbor tells us about their daughter’s illness, do we have the words to encourage them? We know that God will give us the right thing to say, if we are walking close to Him. But is there anything specific we can do to prepare for spontaneous consultations?

Yes! We can do two specific things to get ready: First, fill our minds with the Word. That is easy to say, but hard to practice, right? This is part of the reason we encourage memorization of Bible verses. “I know the Bible talks about money” is not quite as compelling or satisfying as “Matthew 6:33 promises that if we put God’s priorities first, He will take care of our needs. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Bible study (meditation and memorization) will go a long way to prepare us academically for the teachable moment when someone shares with us their struggles…but that is not all that is needed. Bible knowledge is critical, but not sufficient by itself to keep us from stumbling in conversation. Wouldn’t it be great if we did not stumble at all?

The second thing we can do is to fill our hearts with God’s love. 1John 2:10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. What a promise! If we fill our hearts with God’s love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, we will not stumble in spur of the moment exchanges! Hallway conversations will glorify God!

Lord, please help me to fill my mind with Your Word and my heart with Your love, that I might not sin, but be a blessing with my tongue today!