September 6, 2023
“How we welcome people is a good indicator of where we are in our journey to becoming Christ-like.” David and Karen Mains share some of their experiences when they felt welcome and when they were able to help others feel welcome.
How we welcome people is a good indicator of where we are in our journey to becoming Christ’s life.
David: We’re talking this visit about one of our favorite words.
Karen: And that word has seven letters and it starts with a W. Can you guess what it is?
Intro: Welcome to the Before We Go Podcast featuring Dr. David Mains and his wife, noted author Karen Mains. Here’s David and Karen Mains.
David: Right up front, here’s our key sentence for this visit.
Karen: How we welcome people is a good indicator of where we are in our journey to becoming Christ’s life.
David: I’ll repeat that again a bit later in the visit, but let’s start out, okay?
Karen: Okay. So, I guess the word that begins with W is Welcome. Did I get it?
David: You sure did. Part of the reason I wanted to talk about this is I’ve been reading some of the books we wrote years ago.
Karen: Yeah, which you forget about after you’re done writing it.
David: I went through Open Heart, Open Home this week and I said to you, “That’s really a powerful book. That’s probably why it’s sold. It touched a nerve.” I’d say that there are well over a million copies of this book.
Karen: That was the first book I wrote. Of course, I thought it was the world’s gift to writing.
David: Everybody who writes the first book.
Karen: Either that or they don’t write anything again because it’s a hard work. So, I re-read it too. And because we knew we were going to head into the topic of welcome just to remind myself of what my approach again. And you come in with a sort of an editorial mind that says, it’s a little wordy and that sort of stuff. But I think the meaning of the book is still very powerful.
David: It’s very beautiful. The chapter that got to me was the one that you entitled Welcome. And it’s how we welcome people in our lives. And there are many people we interact with and sometimes subconsciously. We just say, you know, “I’m busy.” I don’t need to…
Karen: Yeah, we reserve ourselves. We don’t want to get involved with them. We give off that message pretty clearly. And then there are times when we can’t get involved.
David: I feel convicted as I read it. And I thought, you know what? Part of the reason she writes so knowledgeably about that is because she’s writing about how her husband was.
Karen: I don’t know if I was, but you’re very singularly focused on what you’re doing.
David: I can shut out the world.
Karen: You can shut out the world.
David: It’s just a blessing and it’s a curse.
Karen: That’s true. All of our good qualities. We have both of those elements. Whereas I, as a woman managing a house and kids, not that you weren’t involved with them, but on their daily level and laundry and keeping the gardens going and entertaining people. I was multitasking.
David: I would say I’m not good when a youngster or a grandchild now wants attention. I’m good at saying “I will give you attention, but right at the moment I’m working with a deadline.” I think that’s not what they want to hear.
Karen: No, it’s not. But I mean, we had a daily broadcast and a daily television show. Plus, we were doing pastors conference and writing books. So, it’s a different time in our lives right now. We’re relaxed, more gentle at times.
David: But I think I’ve carried on some of those bad habits from before. I’m trying to confess so I feel better.
Karen: As we get into the reality of this podcast.
David: That’s right.
Karen: Well, let’s talk about Welcome. There are scriptures that are really very prominent in their emphasis. That welcome is important. So, let me read a couple of them and then I’ll read them again at the end of the podcast. This is from Romans. “Therefore, welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you for the glory of God.”
And then this one from Matthew. This is Jesus, speaking. “For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” I’m getting emotional on this. It’s so beautiful. “I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.” That’s from Matthew 25.
David: All these are said, and you noticed.
David: Well, people respond and say, “When did we do that? We don’t remember doing that.”
Karen: Yeah. Then down a couple verses that he continues, and he said to them, “As you have done this to the least of these, you have done it unto me.” So, just beautiful when we think about it. And yet when we’re extending welcome or when we’re in a place where we need to include people or be happy that they’re in our lives or come in our door. We’re meeting them over a grocery counter even. Check out Gallup at the groceries. When we extend welcome to them. Are we thinking that we’re doing it in a way that Christ considers that we have extended welcome to him? It’s a beautiful concept.
David: This story got to me and I’m just going to read it and then we’ll comment on it. You wrote, I love the story of the elderly woman who was touring several guests through her newly decorated first floor rooms. Upon hearing her husband return home after a day’s work, she excused herself with the words, “Pardon me for a moment while I’m downstairs to greet Andrew. I never liked him to return home without welcoming him.” Through decades of marriage now stretched into the autumn of life through thousands of homecomings, this woman had preserved her spirit of greeting. What a warm relationship had involved over those many years. It’s a beautiful story and I’m thinking to myself, I get preoccupied. I passed a lot of that up. I wish I could get Jeremy back. Her son died at 42. He always wanted to talk.
Karen: He does a verbal processor. He processes his ideas.
David: There were times I listened. There were times we said, “Let’s go for a ride and I’ll shut everything else out” and that was good. I wish I’d done it more. I can’t do it now until I get to glory. I prioritized ministry and sometimes in an unfortunate way, do the bigger ministry in terms of our house. I think I’ve done that to you over the years. I am doing much better with you.
Karen: You’re working in it. I really appreciate it. You also don’t want to have all those multiple deadlines, which helps. So, today in this podcast, we’re going to examine who it is in our lives who welcomed us, people who extended welcome and modeled that so we could learn from them.
David: My dad was good at asking questions and listening to people. I think people knew that he was truly interested in them. So, if I’ve learned that from someone close, I would probably learn it from my dad that people focused on other people and don’t talk about yourself nearly as much.
Karen: For part of your life, he was a traveling salesperson. So that would be a very important quality to have if you’re making sales with strangers or your regular clientele. It’s really interesting. I will say that one of the ways I learned about welcome was from my dad, but I’ll talk about him a little bit later, what he said off in my life. As I think of other people in my life. I had a seventh grade English teacher. So, we were at the stage in schooling where you went from one classroom to another. We weren’t in the same classroom like you were in grade school. And she’d given us some writing assignments. And so, I wrote something out for her. And she called me to her desk, and she said, “Karen, this is exceptional.” I’m seventh or eighth grade. And she said, “You, my dear, will never be happy unless you keep writing.”
What an extraordinary thing. Extraordinary. And that was a marker for me. I believed her. And I did love to write, but for her to call me aside like that and welcome my gift and my writings in junior high was just a turning point for me in my own life. So those kinds of people can have profound effect and influence in what we do in the days ahead.
David: I want to go back to your dad.
David: Your dad welcomed me. He would say, “Come on, let’s sit down. Let’s talk. Are you any good at checkers, David?”
Karen: No. You weren’t as good as he was because he was a master checker player.
David: Yeah, he was. He was pretty good. I thought I’d probably beat him and then I have to figure out how do I let him…
Karen: …win. Feel better.
David: I was sweating, you know. And your dad, I don’t know how he did it, but he never moved his back roll out. So, you couldn’t get a king.
Karen: What a strategy.
David: Anyway, I got happy feelings even talking about him.
Karen: He was a wonderful, welcoming person and very personable. I’ll always remember my father. And I think this is where this natural bent toward welcome in me developed. He would go to the door when someone rang the doorbell in our house and I could hear him saying, “Oh, Wilma,” that was my mom. “Oh, Wilma, look who’s come to our door!” Now, isn’t that extraordinary? Imagine being greeted by that.
David: I can hear him say it. Yes.
Karen: “Look who’s come to our door!” So that kind of welcome was modeled all the time. He was just beautiful at that.
David: It was very, very neat. Let’s get outside of our world because we’re in a situation that is very common, but there are many people who they’re not married. They may marry sometime, maybe they choose not to. I’m thinking to say two college roommates.
Karen: Who don’t know one another? First year of college they’ve been assigned a room together.
David: Of all the people in the world, why did you choose that person to be my roommate? And they both feel the same way.
Karen: They’re never going to make a goal of this.
David: What do we say to people like that? Who are followers of Jesus?
Karen: I would say to them that some of the most unlikely people that I’ve had that very same feeling about, “Oh, I’m stuck with this person” or “How am I ever going to make it?”
When I begin to ask them questions, when I begin to welcome their answers to listen and ask another question, “Why did you choose the school in that case? Or tell me what your major is and why do you love that major? And what’s your family like?” All that sort of stuff that you begin to become proficient over the years. That personality unfolds in the oddity that you identified right at the beginning. Maybe it doesn’t go away. It’s still there, but it’s not as important. You begin to see that this person has value, has potential, and you then want to be part of their growing. And I think as you share out of your life, they may have felt the same way about you. “Oh, dear, I stuck with his roommate for the rest of this semester.” They begin to know you and in that knowing a miracle happens. That’s where Christlikeness comes because he knows us. He loves us.
David: It’s a miracle because you didn’t know if you could ever really like this person or enjoy this person or whether they would ever feel welcomed by you and yet by golly you pulled it off.
Karen: Yeah. You may not become best buddies, but you become good friends and you share common thing together.
David: I’m thinking of a person now.
Karen: Go ahead.
David: Of an individual who I thought I’m never going to win this person over. And I was able to. Just because of saying, as you have welcomed me, Jesus probably thought many times that David is a nut.
Karen: How are we going to get him where he has this best potential that I’ve given to him?
David: So anyway, I’m trying to think in terms of how do we relate, to others. Some of the people who say work for us, it could be the cleaning woman who comes in.
Karen: She’s from Poland. It’s hard to understand her English. You’re wonderful. She thinks you’re great, David.
David: I think she’s great.
Karen: Yeah, just lovely.
David: I think she’s great. I mean, her husband has been unemployed. He probably doesn’t have a lot of skills. What is his English like? I don’t know.
Karen: Yeah, I don’t know.
David: But I honor that person. Yeah, I’ve come to really like her. She’s a good person. I think one of the key individuals in our family has been an individual who first came to our acquaintance because of his yard work. He’s an absolute master gardener.
Karen: He’s from Mexico. He’s a migrant worker. And he worked for your brother. Your brother really was a medical doctor. He had more of an estate. He was a naturalist, though. He loved to grow things. And taught this Mexican man everything he knows now about gardening. He’s working in our yard once a week as an extension of your brother’s knowledge. It’s kind of a very sweet thing. You’ve made it more of a point to get to know that Mexican friend.
David: I had a person at the church the other day said to me, “You are really good at asking questions.” And I think it’s because I asked him a question that I really wanted to know about. But I think that that’s a fair compliment. And I received that I am good at that. And part of that is to say to other people, “I welcome you into my world.” Let’s not talk about me anymore.
Karen: Yeah, I want to get to know you. Do we have time to talk about welcoming others in church? Because that’s a big area that most of us aren’t involved in.
David: Sure, go ahead.
Karen: Well, I did a little research on this, just internet research. And most churches have their worship service. And if they have multiple worship services, there’ll be a little coffee time or something like that. Or if they just have one worship service time, there’s a get-together time afterwards.
David: There is a social exchange.
Karen: A social exchange, coffee and cupcakes or breads or something like that. Well, one of the things that we really want to do is to not just greet newcomers who are in church, who maybe have a tag or stand up so people can see who they are. Churches have tried to identify the ones who are in the church, visitors. But we really spend time not just talking with our buddies and friends. And this is the temptation because we haven’t seen them for a week or they’ve been on vacation, we want to catch up. We have to reach out to those newcomers and make them feel welcome. And that is the place where most people will decide whether they want to be a part of this church or not. It’s in that time after the worship service, what we call a little social time, or get together time, where people really extend themselves and welcome the stranger.
David: Let’s go back to that sentence that I gave a long time ago. See if we’re on target in terms of what we’re talking about.
How we welcome people is a good indicator of where we are in our journey to becoming Christ-like. Is that overstated?
Karen: No, it’s not. Jesus says it. I mean, I’ll read those scriptures again.
Karen: Okay. This is Jesus talking. “Therefore, welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you for the glory of God.” That’s Romans. That’s Paul.
Matthew. Here’s Jesus. “For I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.”
David: Okay, you can be a stranger in a new church. You’ve just moved into the area, or you haven’t gone to church, but you feel a need.
Karen: For years, maybe, or never. You’re just trying it out.
David: What’s that? I was a stranger and…
Karen: “…you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me. As you have done this to the least of these, you have done it unto me.”
So, we need to get that mentality in the front of our mind that as we welcome one another, we are welcoming Christ.
David: And there is a sense in which that’s literally true. How we welcome people is a good indicator of where we are in our journey to becoming Christ-like. What are you going to take away from this visit?
Karen: Well, I’m going to look at the people in my lives and see are there any I don’t welcome. I think I’m pretty good at this. Partly because I have a natural curiosity about people. I find oddity in personality, something very interesting. But then that background I was raised in just modeled it all the time. But we could always work on it. We can all improve it. I too get involved in tasks and have people coming for dinner after church and Sunday and I’m thinking about that and not really focusing on the folklore there.
David: I’m going to think more in terms of family, especially grandchildren.
David: And I’m also going to, in a sense, I’m going to process this further and invite in my prayer time Jesus to say, speak to me. I’m kind of hard of hearing sometimes.
Karen: This is the inner voice we’re talking about.
David: That would, I can still hear.
Karen: And I think he does say to us, well, what about this person? Or because we’ve had this podcast time and been focusing on this, someone will come to the door and we didn’t know they were coming or didn’t plan on them or we’re reminded that we, they need our welcome.
David: Yeah, welcome. No, I’m fine. Just come on in. Tell me what’s on your mind.
Karen: Yeah, look who’s at our door.
David: That’s your dad. Hey, Karen. Guess who’s at our door?
Karen: That wonderful.
David: Yeah, it is. It’s wonderful. I probably will try that. It’ll be somebody I’ve never seen before. Maybe it’s a Jehovah Witness person.
Karen: That’s fine.
David: And I still should welcome.
Karen: So, we would love to hear is our listeners’ ideas on welcome the experiences they’ve had. So, shoot us a line, send an email. Dean will tell people how to get into it.
David: Yeah, I’m going to be thinking about this for a while today.
Outgo: You’ve been listening to the Before We Go podcast. And if you would like to write to us, please send us an email at the following address: email@example.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please remember to rate, review, and share on whatever platform you listen. This podcast is copyright 2023 by Mainstay Ministries, Post Office Box 30, Wheaton, Illinois 60187.
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