Editorial: Approachability

How available are you to the people in your world? Do unbelievers ask for the “reason of the hope that is in you” (1Pe 3:15), or do fellow believers confide in you or come to you in times of difficulty?

Spirituality and approachability are connected. As we grow in sanctification and sensitivity to sin, rather than turning people away, we will be drawing them in. The sinless Savior was remarkably approachable. Parents freely brought their children to Him, needy individuals nearly smothered Him, and even religious leaders constantly surrounded Him. Apparently, the more spiritual we are, the more approachable we are also. So how can we cultivate an atmosphere of approachability?

For one, we need to engage more. It’s hard to approach people who aren’t there to begin with. Jesus purposefully engaged with other people. He accepted dinner invitations, went out of His way to visit a Samaritan woman, and willingly took little children in His arms and blessed them. So try to not hole up in the office all day (or in the study). Don’t always rush to the car when assembly meetings are concluded. Offer and accept invitations for meals. And don’t neglect time with children, especially your own. For those whose personalities are more introverted, this will require work and purposeful action, but our personality types should never be an excuse for refusing to engage with others.

We could also try to listen more. To those who are more extroverted, the self-discipline to not monopolize the conversation will be required. The Lord Jesus could read people’s thoughts. But we can’t (thankfully, I might add). Not until we listen to what people say will we be in any position to help them. In some cases, the mere act of listening itself is all the help that may be needed.

Emulating the life of Christ will motivate us to serve more. As He served others unselfishly and without partiality, His approachability became even more apparent. In fact, His service in helping others often emboldened many with similar needs to make their approach to Him. Your humble service may even break down nearly impenetrable barriers and finally motivate someone to approach you for the help critically needed.

We also can increase our approachability if we open more. We should be honest and transparent enough to admit (in an appropriate manner) our struggles should others come to us with an admission of their own. Although the Lord Jesus had no personal sin struggles, the Apostle Paul did and openly admitted them in his letter to the Romans (7:7-25). If people perceive that we believe ourselves to be superior, they will likely keep their distance.

Finally, it can’t hurt us to smile more. Recently while driving past a neighbor, I waved and “smiled.” Then I tried to recreate the smile and looked in the rear-view mirror. I have to say I wasn’t too impressed. If we radiate joy and contentment, others won’t help but notice and be drawn to us.

If approachability were the only measure of our spirituality, how are we doing? The little world around us is our area of influence. Are we drawing people in or keeping them away?