You’ve heard this before, everyone has a story. When we take the time to initiate with people to hear their story it enriches our lives. And theirs, too. Today’s episode is an example of initiating with someone and the benefits in doing so. Listen in.

My first boss

I met my wife in high school in 9th grade. We didn’t talk to each other much until our junior year when she was co-editor of our school newspaper. Things took a big leap forward when she asked me to write a humor column for the Campus Courier. So when I started writing my column, “Off the Beaten Path,” Janet became my boss. My first boss. Carol’s my boss too, but Janet’s been my boss the longest. I get them both a Boss’s Day card every October 16th.

Janet’s editorial skills and experience came into play the other day after she listened to episode 140, about thank you notes. She liked the examples I gave in that program from my own life of doing good for others to the extent people thank you for it. She said

“If you’re going to tell people what to do in their relationships you have to be doing the same thing yourself.”

I couldn’t agree with her more. I knew I had to do something related to episode 141 about the relational resolution I suggested for this year: initiate with people. Since I’m recommending this to others I need to do it myself.

Practice what I’m preaching

So I decided to initiate with one of our previous podcast guests, Josephine, a missionary serving in Eastern Europe. Her real name isn’t Josephine, but for security reasons in her part of the world, I’m calling her that. And also because “Josephine” was the name of my grandmother who was born in Eastern Europe and emigrated to the US when she was 18.

As you listen in to my Zoom conversation with Josephine, see what ideas you can pick up for having a similar conversation with someone that YOU initiate with. Our conversation begins at about the 3:10:00 mark with me reminding Josephine of the last time we talked. Listen in.

[I’m sorry, there is no transcript available. Please listen to the podcast]

At about 6:32 into the interview

I want to stop her for a moment. What Josephine said about where she feels most comfortable often comes as a surprise to people here in the States who have limited exposure to missionaries. Another missionary once told me he feels like a fish out of water when he comes back to the US from Southeast Asia where he serves. We often assume missionaries can’t wait to get to America because of all the creature comforts we enjoy here. It’s often not like that, as Josephine points out.

Back to our conversation at about 7:12 into the interview

I’ve got to interject here for a moment. Isn’t this a great example of the benefits of initiating with people? Expressing her gratitude to 3 older adults for the positive impact they had on her life. She intentionally wanted to spread a little joy in the lives of her former teachers. What a kind and caring gesture on Josephine’s part. And notice that she said, “it was a huge gift for me, and for them, too.” That’s the way it often is when we initiate with people. It does become a huge benefit to us.

 Our conversation resumes near the 11:34 mark

Asking someone how they came to be whatever they are doing now is one way to initiate with people. It’s something you can start asking people you want to go deeper with in your relationship. More often than not people will have an interesting story to tell. And many times their story will have God’s fingerprints all over their story. So give it a try, ask someone what led them to do what they’re doing now. It will encourage the person you’re talking to, and you could very well be encouraged yourself.

I pick up with Josephine at about 16:34

What great answers to my questions about how she became a Christian, and then how she was led into missions serving in Eastern Europe. Don’t you just love her honesty and seeing how God directed her? For me, I hear joy coming through in Josephine’s answers.

I’m going to save her answer to the last questions I asked about the people of Eastern Europe for next week’s episode. The story she shares about her home assignment is quite interesting in its contrast to the values of the people she lives with overseas. It sure got me thinking, and it will do the same for you when you listen to part 2 next week.

So what does all this mean for YOU?

Do yourself a favor and initiate with people. Start with one person. It will get your mind off whatever you’re dealing with as you hear people’s stories and how God is leading them.

Here’s the main takeaway I hope you remember from today’s episode

When we initiate with people to learn their story and how God is leading them, it opens us to possibilities we may not have considered before. It opens us up to see the love of God in caring for people and meeting their needs. And when we do that it strengthens our faith, for what God does for others, he certainly can do for us.

I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. You can leave them in “Leave a Comment” box at the bottom of the show notes.


In closing, I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act by initiating with someone. You make the first contact and see what happens. And let me know how that goes for you.

For when you initiate with people there’s a good chance you will find the joy God intends for you through your relationships. You Were Made for This, you know.

Well, that’s all for today. I can’t wait to share with you again next week when we will hear part 2 of Josephine’s story. Take care, and spread a little joy this week.

Related episodes you may want to listen to

083: The Best Christmas – Be with People in Community
139: Why should I listen to this podcast?

Our Sponsor

You Were Made for This is sponsored by Caring for Others, a missionary care ministry. We depend upon the generosity of people like you to pay our bills.  If you'd like to support what we do with a secure tax-deductible donation, please click here. Thank you.