May I put this in your garbage bag? I gestured toward the new bag the lady had just put in the airport trash can. Why sure Darlin’, she said.

Darlin.’ I don’t hear that too much in California, but I hear things like that a lot in the South where I grew up and where I am right now at a church planters’ conference.

There’s a gentleness about such expressions that I like. It’s polite, warm, affectionate, and friendly. It makes you feel like family.

Tonight the waitress at Cracker Barrel asked me if I was ready to give my dinner order. Not just yet, I said. Alright Sugar, she said.

The speaker in a class I attended today said that even the meanest, baddest character melts when he is asked, Can I pray for you? He told us story after story of people who responded positively to the request.

I think that Sugar, Darlin’ and Can I pray for you? all have one thing in common–they show uncommon warmth and interest in the person to whom they’re said.

Darlin works best in the South It’s what you expect in this area of the Country. But Can I pray for you works everywhere. I need to say that more.