Avoiding The Awkward

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If you watched the Broncos game last night, you witnessed plenty of interesting moments. Perhaps the most humorous and interesting of all was the sideline commentary by Sergio Dipp. It was one of the most awkward commentaries in recent memory. Here’s how it started (be sure to insert some ill-placed pauses as Sergio did):“Beth. Coach. It’s a pleasure to be with you guys, here on the field, from up close, just watching coach Vance Joseph from here. You watch him now on the screen.”

After stating the painfully obvious scene, Sergio went on to talk about how the Broncos’ African American head coach has a background of diversity. One would think Sergio was referencing the diversity relating to his race, but what he cited was his time coaching college and playing in the NFL, which was confusing. The end of Dipp’s commentary went something like this, “And here he is! Having the time of his life! This night marking his head coaching debut.” During these closing statements the Broncos head coach was looking down, straight faced, and scribbling something down on his clipboard (Watch It Here).

Now, for most viewers, this report was just a lighthearted gaffe. And honestly, his enthusiasm was appreciated despite his awkwardness. Sergio did follow up on Twitter and further explained himself (ibid). To summarize, he said he was caught up in the fact that it was the anniversary of 9/11, the NFL, Monday Night Football, a big game between division rivals, and it was his own debut on this stage. He was also trying to tap into the fact that both himself (being Hispanic) and Vance Joseph (being African American) came out of minority groups in America. It’s easy to see he was forcibly trying to add too many layers into his 30-second report. The whole thing just came off really awkward.

None of us are strangers to awkward moments. Maybe it resulted from the grandeur of the moment we were in. Maybe we just didn’t feel prepared. Maybe we felt overwhelmed. Whatever the cause, we try to avoid awkward moments like the plague. And probably chief among the uncomfortable moments we avoid are the evangelistic ones. Let’s learn a few lessons from Sergio on how to navigate through the awkward:

  1. Put Yourself Out There. Sure, it didn’t turn out great for Sergio, but he did at least turn out. He was there. He put himself out on the wire. If nothing else, we were able to see his passion and enthusiasm. In evangelism, we’re going to make mistakes, but there is something positive to be said for putting ourselves out there. Letting people see our passion for the Lord (Psalm 105:1). Letting people see our enthusiasm (Isaiah 6:8 for example). Even when we make mistakes, putting ourselves out there to evangelize is far better than sulking back and saying nothing at all.
  2. Get Yourself Out Of The Way. One of Sergio’s most significant blunders came from the fact that he was trying to insert his own situation and background into the brief 30 seconds he was on the air. He was trying to place his position into the game, and it just seemed forced. In evangelism, we can easily let ourselves get in the way. Sometimes we look at our current situation, background, upbringing, abilities, and then let them convince us that we can’t evangelize (e.g. Gideon in Judges 6:15). We give ourselves excuses (e.g. Moses in Exodus 4:1-17). Let’s remember the power isn’t in us, it’s in God’s Word (Romans 1:16-17). Let’s get ourselves out of the way, get the excuses out of the way, and just point people to the Lord (Acts 8:35ff).
  3. Focus On The Task At Hand. Dipp was clearly too focused on the issues of race, his upbringing, and the enormity of the stage. He seemed to miss the fact that his job was just to comment on a football game. In evangelism, let’s keep in mind that the task at hand is to help save someone’s soul (Matthew 28:19-20). It’s not to chase rabbits. It’s not to display our vast knowledge on something. It’s not to win an argument. The more we focus on pointing people to the saving message of truth, the better off we will be (John 14:6; Galatians 3:26-27).
  4. Forgive Yourself & Try Again. To his credit, Sergio indicated that if he is given another opportunity he will make the best of it. Chances are likely he will do much better in his second attempt. In evangelism, we will make mistakes. We won’t say something quite right. We will come about it the wrong way. We will end up chasing rabbits. It’s ok. Realize the blunder, forgive yourself, remember that you’re not perfect, and then get up and try again. Because in the end, souls are still lost and we can still help (Matthew 5:14-16).

I’m not at all calling for Sergio Dipp’s job. Keeping it in perspective, it was a lighthearted gaffe and in some ways he has a likable flare to him. But there is plenty to learn from this. And in our case, some lessons to learn in avoiding the awkward situations in evangelism. Let’s keep at it! 2 Timothy 4:1-2.

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