I was on the phone last week with a potential giving partner who told me about encounters she and her husband have had with missionaries. Here are two conclusions from our conversation based on her experiences.
1. Gospel workers talk too much!
She told me about a long-time missionary friend who spent four hours in their home, but “did not once ask a question about me. I could have been promoted to Chief of Surgery at Mayo Clinic and he would not have known,” she chuckled. To be fair, she admitted that his ministry was interesting and she asked questions, but “after a while I tuned out!”
What is the appropriate talking/listening ratio on a donor visit? Should you tell about your exciting work 75% of the time and leave 25% for donors to talk? Or 60/40? Or 50/50? If you speak more than half the time, you are in trouble.
Think about people you enjoy—are they not good listeners? Are not the best conversationalists those who let you talk? It is more important to be interested than interesting!
James 1:19 says, “But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak….” That implies you must be quick to ask genuine questions!
2. Gospel workers neglect giving-partner wives!
Joan told of a reunion where a missionary she and her husband supported attended, but she said, “He didn’t acknowledge my presence. He made a brief comment to my husband but didn’t walk across the room to speak to me—and it was a leisurely several-hour event!”
Joan is not a demanding person, but it seemed odd to her that her gospel-worker friend didn’t take initiative the entire afternoon. She said, “If he knew I am the one who writes out his monthly support checks he might have gotten up to stretch his legs!”
I tried to excuse the missionary by saying, “Perhaps he thought talking to your husband was the same as acknowledging you.” Or that he was afraid of women!
My paltry excuses didn’t work. “If he is a minister of the gospel, he needs to be secure enough to overcome those hesitations,” she said firmly. “My husband and I are a team, but we are two people. Maybe he doesn’t truly value women?”
Can you accept these two admonitions? The first one calls for restraint of the mouth! The second one calls for taking initiative with the legs!
Let’s do better!