Romans 16:16 - "Greet one another..."

Peggy Noonan, special assistant and primary speechwriter to President Ronald Reagan, relates a story about a woman named Frances Green, an eighty-three-year old who lived by herself on the outskirts of San Francisco. She had little money, but for eight years she’d been sending one dollar a month to the Republican National Committee.

One day Frances received a RNC fund-raising letter in the mail, a beautiful piece on thick, cream-colored paper with black-and-gold lettering. It invited the recipient to come to the White House to meet the President. She never noticed the little RSVP card that suggested a positive reply needed to be accompanied by a generous donation. She thought she’d been invited because they appreciated her dollar-a-month support.

Frances scraped up every cent she had and took a four-day train ride across America. Unable to afford a sleeper, she slept sitting up in coach. When she got to the guard and gave her name, the man frowned, glanced over his official list, and told her that her name wasn’t there. She couldn’t go in. Frances Green was heartbroken.

A Ford Motor Company executive was standing in line behind Frances and watched her story unfold. Realizing something was wrong, he pulled Frances aside. He asked her to return at nine o’clock the next morning and meet him there. She agreed. In the meantime, he made contact with Anne Higgins, a presidential aide, and got clearance to give her a tour of the White House and introduce her to the President. Reagan agreed to see her, “of course.”

The next day was anything but calm at the White House. Ed Meese had just resigned. There had been a military uprising abroad. Reagan was in and out of high-level secret sessions. But Frances Green showed up at nine o’clock, full of expectation and enthusiasm.

The executive met her, gave her a wonderful tour of the White House, then quietly led her by the oval office, thinking maybe, at best, she might catch a quick glimpse of the president on her way out. Members of the National Security Council came out. High-ranking generals were coming and going. In the midst of all the hubbub, President Reagan glanced out and saw Frances Green. With a smile, he gestured her into his office.

As she entered, he rose from his desk and called out, “Frances! Those darn computers, they fouled up again! If I’d known you were coming I would have come out there to get you myself.” He then invited her to sit down, and they talked leisurely about California, her town, her life, and her family.

The President of the United States gave Frances Green a lot of time that day – more time than he had. Some would say it was time wasted. But those who say that didn’t know Ronald Reagan. He knew this woman had nothing to give him, but she needed something he could give her. President Reagan greeted Frances, and it deeply impacted her life, his life, and the lives of those around them.*

Numerous times in Scripture we see the powerful ministry of Greeting One Another. Yet, because it seems so simple to perform, we often underestimate its importance and mistakenly assume that we know how to do it.

Here are seven simple suggestions for developing a "greeting etiquette."
1) Make eye contact.
2) Smile.
3) Develop a greeting vocabulary.
4) Use a person's name. If you don't know his name, find it out.
5) If you're greeting someone for the first time, give your name.
6) Physically acknowledge and affirm the person.
7) Use a friendly tone of voice, and be warm and personable.

*Peggy Noonan, "Character Above All," quoted in Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, 113.

Written by Don McMinn, Ph.D. ( — December 05, 2012

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