Four Hours and a Vinyl Siding Salesman

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I’m no stranger to salesmen knocking at my door. And once in a while, in a weak moment, I actually let them in. I feel sorry for them-- walking miles in the Maryland heat or cold, getting doors slammed in their faces all day long. Horrible job. My instinct is to offer kindness. Give them a smile to show them not all the world is so bad. Maybe try to encourage them with a cold glass of water and a friendly interaction.

And I’ve always regretted it. In return for my humanitarian spirit, they have cajoled, badgered, and eventually even bullied me in an effort to make a sale. They always viewed my kindness as weakness--shamelessly exploiting my desire to be encouraging and using it for their purposes. Every one of them has more than overstayed their welcome, to the point of me thinking about calling the police to get them out.

I keep thinking I have learned my lesson. Never again, I vow, as I shut the door behind them. NEVER.

Well, I broke my promise to myself a few days ago. Two nice young guys knocked to ask if I would be interested in a vinyl siding estimate. It wouldn’t take long at all… the guy would just take some measurements and answer any questions I might have. Once again, I fell victim to my own good will. I had company coming for dinner, but I could squeeze in a short talk. They seemed like such nice guys. I wanted to help them.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Yup, that would be me. Even as their guy walked through my door, I knew I was making a terrible mistake.

But this time things got a little interesting. He spotted my Bible on the kitchen table. He was a religious studies major in college, he told me. And his mother-in-law was an Evangelical Christian. Now of course I knew he was just trying to make a connection with me that would lead to a sale. But an opportunity was an opportunity, and he was not the only one looking for an opening.

I started asking questions. What was his background? What did he believe? He told me he is a “spiritual person.” And he had found his spiritual fulfillment in some music band’s following. He’d found peace through the music and community with other fans. And it was awesome.

I asked him about a higher power. He wasn’t sure God existed at all. In fact, he was kind of hopeful He didn’t. Because he had found the God of the Bible to be cruel and manipulative. If that God really did exist, he wanted no part of Him.

Where did you get that idea of God? I asked. From the Bible, of course, he said. He told me his “Christianity professor" had them read the Bible with the perspective of God as antagonist: a power-hungry deity that takes pleasure in the testing and suffering of his people.

You need to rethink that, I advised him. I then looked him straight in the eye and showed him the REAL God of the Bible. The one who planned for the sacrifice of His Son for the sin of the world before man sinned even one time. How the Bible was one continuous story that climaxed in the death and resurrection of Jesus. And how believing in Him was our only requirement for eternal life.

I’m not sure how much got through. But it is not my job to convict, only to scatter the seed.

Were those few minutes of speaking truth into this man's life worth four hours of my time? Listening to my family eating dinner without me while being held captive at the kitchen table for his unending sales pitch? I will probably never know how much he was affected or not affected by our talk, at least in this lifetime. But I can know one thing.

God wanted this guy to hear the truth. He put me in His path and opened the opportunity. That’s enough for me.

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About juliecoleman

Julie Coleman is an author, teacher, and speaker, focusing on Biblical study and women's ministries. Besides speaking at women's retreats and conferences, Julie has written two books - Unexpected Love and 15 Minutes a Day in Colossians.

  1. What a funny tale that may lead to a time when this young man stands before God. May he never have to hear the words of Rom 1 ‘you are without excuse” What a great divine opportunity that God gave you …and yes you are just like many of us…we walk into Satan’s camp unsuspecting and with an open heart and he seeks to change that but our God is greater than him because God has a greater purpose in mind—that young man’s destiny.

  2. Marge Smith says:

    Amazing love revealed at unusual opportunities! Thanks, Julie

  3. Julie,
    Boy, could I relate to this post. I too have been kind to salespeople who come to my door (or LDS, and Mormons). I’m so glad you didn’t let past experiences jade you and that you listened to the Holy Spirit.
    By the way, I’m just starting to read your book! Love it so far 🙂

  4. Yes, would say four hours is worth a person making it to heaven if he did choose to follow God after that! I have to say, though–you might want to put a no soliciting sign up! It’s helped me (another kind-hearted person who has trouble being mean to salespeople) a lot!

    Heather Bock

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