"A man finds joy in giving an apt reply..and how good is a timely word". Proverbs 15:23
In my role as Interim College Minister at my church, I went to campus Wednesday to be at the BCM's outreach lunch program. I always go an hour or so earlier so I can walk the campus. I walk around and through the Student Center a couple of different ways and I go through the Library and back up the main sidewalk through the center of campus. Right after entering the Student Center I saw a student who comes to our Wednesday night event occasionally. I spoke and she ran up and hugged me and said how glad she was to see me. She went her way.
A few steps further I saw a student who is a a youth ministry intern at another local church. He came toward me obviously wanting to talk. We stood there several minutes as he talked about his ministry and wondering what direction God was leading him for a long term ministry vocation. I didn't say anything wise....I just asked some questions.
Then, I saw a student who had been involved in the BCM ministry when I was the Acting College Minister a year ago. She is getting ready to graduate and she wanted to just enjoy celebrating that and that she already had a job and an apartment in another city. No words of wisdom needed on my part....just congratulations and a listening ear.
Down the sidewalk by the Library, I saw a familiar face and he stopped to tell me about his summer job in another state. He was apprehensive.
I was reminded how important our words and "apt replies" are to students. Often, an apt reply is to say, "That's great"! or "Congratulations". I wonder how often our words are way more important than we realize.
Several years ago a former student came to see me and was telling me about her married life...and then she teared up and said, "I know you did not approve of our marriage". I was stunned and asked why she said that. She said, "When I told you we were engaged you said, "Tell him he is fortunate to marry up". I meant it as a compliment to her and a a bit of a joke. My words had not been "an apt reply".
I am strongly committed to the belief that we do not know all the ways God uses our words and replies and how important it is that we take our words seriously.
By the way, I am also strongly committed to always walking across campus!