The Most Helpful Body Language Tip for Pastors

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As a young GI stationed abroad in Germany back in the 1970’s, my husband, Bud, joined an off-post church. The pastor lived in the facility and on my husband’s occasional mid-week days off, he would often drop by to visit with Pastor Hatcher and his family.

Bud on numbers of occasions has related the deep impression that pastor made on him in one simple way: every time pastor opened the door to invite Bud in, he greeted Bud with a huge smile.

Sounds simple, yet 40 years later Bud still remembers and relates how hugely effective Pastor’s warm, happy, inviting greeting helped him get through a few lonely days.

I do believe the fundamental and most helpful body language tip to instantly improve our ability to connect with others – at least in American culture – is what I call “the warm greeting”: look people in the eye, smile at them like you mean it, and provide a firm, friendly handshake when appropriate.

In John 13:35, Jesus stated that love should be the mark of Christians. I realize agape love goes far, far beyond simple greetings. However, did you know the New Testament directs believers to greet one another properly in five separate scriptures?[i]

Consider what you communicate with a warm greeting. It says, “I am interested in you. I’m glad to see you. You matter!” It quickly communicates acceptance and love![ii]

Of course, you probably already exhibit many qualities of an emotionally intelligent person and on most occasions, likely greet people warmly. However, a few things can cause any of us to be off our game or lose our focus:

  • Busyness
  • Preoccupation
  • Addiction to electronic devices, texts and emails (yes, I went there)
  • Introversion
  • Burn out
  • Simply feeling ill

Still, the way you interact with others, especially when first meeting them, establishes your concern for them and frankly, the base level of your own charisma. It costs little energy or time under any circumstances.

Anyone can learn the behaviors of a warm greeting. If you’re already good at it, keep it up! If you could use improvement in that area, today is a good day to start!


[i] Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:26, 1 Peter 5:14
[ii] St. Augustine in his “Sermon 227”, an Easter sermon, referred to Christian brothers greeting one another with a holy kiss as a sacrament

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