Why should I smile when I’m talking on the phone? Unless it’s a video chat, the listener can’t see me smile.
Because they can hear me smile.
Yes, you can hear a smile.
The same goes for talking on the radio, a podcast, or while preaching a sermon. Smiling when you talk changes the way your voice sounds.
A smile gives your voice a more inviting, uplifting tone. It welcomes people in. And, for an introvert like me, who has a general dislike of talking on the phone, a smile works its way from my face to my mood.
Our emotions go from the outside in far more often than from the inside out. So smiling while doing something I otherwise dislike actually helps make it bearable, sometimes even enjoyable.
Go The Extra Smile
There’s a lot of interesting theological debate about exactly what Jesus meant when he told us to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, love our enemies, and heap burning coals on their head (Matthew 5, Romans 12).
Was it about redirecting power? Controlling your life’s narrative? Being an example of humility? Promoting nonviolence?
I’ll leave that debate to others. But I think it has to mean at least this.
Be nicer than you need to be.
Invisible kindnesses leak out in visible ways. They train our character and define how we and our message are perceived by others.
Smile, It’s Good News
As Christians, and especially as ministers, we’ve been entrusted with the most important task ever given to humankind. To participate in the process of reconciling people to their creator.
Certainly, there are hard truths and hard tasks that accompany such a call. That’s what makes the smile, and the kindnesses that accompany it, even more important. People are more open to hear hard truths when they’re delivered from a positive mindset – when they can hear that our desire, even in criticism, is to lift people up, not tear them down.
Besides, the gospel is good news. That’s worth a smile.
When you smile, they know it. And the good news starts feeling good to them, too.
Copyright © 2018 by the author or Christianity Today.
Click here to read our guidelines concerning reprint permissions.