I love Jesus, and I want to tell everyone how wonderful and good he is. I want people to have a personal relationship with him, and I really believe that if most people would take the time to get to know him, they couldn’t help but love him. But despite how strongly I feel about him, I still find there are many times when my voice is silent. One of the main reasons for this is that I get intimidated. Like many people who struggle with evangelism, I think my problem is oftentimes rooted in fear.
Fear comes in many forms. It is easy to identify severe phobias, such as fear of spiders, the dark, or crowds, but the fact is that we all have some fears. It has been said that the number one thing people fear is public speaking. When examined more closely, we see that it is actually not the public speaking that people are afraid of; rather it is the fear of being judged by the audience, which is a form of “fear of rejection.” This type of fear can manifest in a variety of ways, and it is at the root of why I sometimes don’t speak to others about Christ.
Our culture has conditioned us to believe that there are things that are acceptable to discuss publicly, but other matters which are for the private realm—faith being one of them. No one ever questions you if you speak to a stranger about your work, family, science, or world events, but heaven forbid that you should speak to someone about faith and religion. Most agree that it is okay to have your faith, but it is definitely not something that we should talk to others about publicly; after all, “You have your beliefs and I have mine.” We are allowing our voices to be hijacked when we submit to this subtle pressure to not speak publicly about faith.
There are a number of things that we can do to overcome the feeling of intimidation and learn how to effectively reach others for Christ. Here are a few that I have found to be helpful for me:
Have a Conversation, Not a Presentation
I love when the phone rings and it is a friend on the other end, but I HATE it when it is a salesperson calling. Why? Because I hate it when someone approaches me with an agenda, which is what a presentation is. The friendship is usually a reciprocal relationship, whereas the salesperson is calling because they want give me a presentation so they get something from me—almost always my time or money. But with my friends, we have conversations—two-way interactions—which is what most people enjoy. It is important that we learn to have conversations with people, and then weave faith matters in where it is fitting and appropriate in the conversation.
Doing anything with a lack of preparation always undermines my confidence and makes me nervous. Christians may know the Bible, but being prepared to speak about Christ requires much more than merely being able to quote the Bible. We must understand that everyone has a worldview, a fundamental way or framework of beliefs through which they see and interact with the world. Learning about the most common worldviews and their differences (such as Deism, Theism, Naturalism/Materialism, Pantheism, etc.) helps us to speak with others from a position of knowledge instead of ignorance. By taking the time to understand the ways in which others see the world, we can help them see some of the logical inconsistencies in their thinking, which in turn helps us to more effectively present the Gospel message and God’s heart to them.
Seek Spiritual Insight Regarding Others
No one knows the inner heart of another person, but God does! Knowing that God wants us to reach others for Him, we can boldly ask Him to show us the hearts of others by giving us spiritual knowledge and wisdom, and by inspiring us to speak words on His behalf. The Bible has many records of Jesus doing exactly this, such as when he spoke to the woman at the well, how he called many of his disciples, and the way he spoke to the rich young ruler. God will give us His insight too when we ask—we just need to make sure we are bold enough to then act on it.
Ask People if You can Pray for Them
Last week, a friend of mine told me how a homeless man asked him for money for a meal. My friend agreed to buy him the meal, but only on the condition that the man would allow my friend to pray for him. The man readily agreed—it must have seemed like a small trade-off for free food! After purchasing the meal, my friend prayed for the man, and God revealed many of the secret struggles in the homeless man’s heart. The man was overcome with emotion and the result was a hour-long conversation on faith matters.
Our culture wants to hijack our voices for Christ, but there are numerous strategies we can employ to overcome any fear and intimidation we may feel. Find your own personal way to reach others for Jesus by finding your voice.
Proverbs 29:25 NIV
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.