Well, I hope you are sitting down. This is going to be profound. Ready? Be aware of the status of your breath. That’s it? Come on! This may seem irrelevant, but remember how you felt the last time you spoke with someone whose breath took your breath away? Consider how distracting and unpleasant it was. Consider what your impression of that person was after that encounter. Most of us find this issue to be deeply personal to us, and it is offensive and embarrassing if someone bothers to bring it to our attention. However, there is a simple solution for everyone. Be humble and aware of it. Always carry with you gum or a mint to take care of the problem. Of all the things that can negatively affect our ministry to others, this one can be easily eliminated with a little awareness and planning.
Having considered this issue, we must also be gracious towards the breath of those we are visiting. Even though you should expect your breath to be pleasant, it is an unrealistic expectation for sick people (especially those in the hospital), who have not showered nor brushed their teeth in days, to be able to do anything about it. Therefore, be gracious and sensitive to their situation.
This principle should also be applied to your day-to-day interactions with people in your church. A most important time for me to be aware of the “status” of my breath is when I greet people as they leave church on Sunday morning after I have preached. Have those around you who feel comfortable to tell you randomly on a Sunday morning, “Hey, you need a mint.” Years ago, I knew I had a special relationship with my associate pastor when he leaned over to me while sitting on the platform just before the service started and gave me that crucial counsel, “Don’t talk to anyone else until you get a mint.”
The enemy is trying really hard to put up as many barriers between us and our people. Therefore, whether in a hospital or greeting people as they leave on Sunday, eliminate one by always carrying gum or a mint…and don’t be afraid to use them.