Let me expose one of Satan's most powerful lies. He has cleverly convinced most Christ followers that the work of telling people about Jesus belongs to the "professional pastors." "The pastor can do a much better job. After all, that's what he went to seminary for.” I'm chuckling as I type. What a smoke screen.
Let's be real.
- It's not that the pastor can do a better job. It's your fear of being "weird."
- A ton of pastors feel the same as you. They preach inside the church every week but have never actually led anyone to Christ personally outside the building.
I was one of them.
I used to be completely paralyzed when it came to talking to people about Jesus in everyday conversations. One time in my early 20s, a lady giving me a haircut asked me what I did for a living. I was so afraid to tell her I was pastor, I lied my rear end off. I made up some story about "helping troubled teens." Of course when she asked questions I fabricated more detail. Like Peter, I had just denied the Lord ... and I was a pastor and a hypocrite. I never felt more shame and guilt than I did that day.
What a powerful stronghold the enemy had built up in my life! It was the fear of what others would think of me. Consequently, my subconsious definition of success was, "What do I have to do to get you guys to like me." I couldn't even imagine myself ever talking to someone in the "real" world about Jesus, because if I did, "What if you don't like me? What if you think I'm weird? What if you laugh at me?" I feared withdrawal and rejection.
I literally got down on my knees that day and repenting for being ashamed of my Savior. I went back to the salon the next day, but the woman had quit that morning. I never saw her again. But that failure turned out to be a turning point in my life.
There was a particular verse of Scripture God used to renew my thinking.
" ... worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way." 1 Peter 3:15-16 (NLT)
I carried these words around with me on a 3x5 card every where I went for months. I thought deeply about each phrase. For example, I took the first little piece, " ... worship Christ as Lord of your life." I tried to imagine what it meant to worship Christ as Lord of my whole life. This can't be just a song I might sing at church. How does my everyday life worship Christ?
One day as I thought about it, a revelation occurred: "Darryn, don't think so much about "what" to say. As you are going out into the world every day, your life should show people what following Me looks like. That's what really brings honor to Me."
I believe that was God's Spirit bringing understanding and illumination to my mind. I began to imagine all the stereotypes about Christians that would have to be torn down. You can only influence people to the degree that you have earned the right to be heard. It's all about credibility. Often simple kindness or thoughtfulness is the first step. How will I earn the right to heard? What makes my life attractive? Would anyone want the life I have?
Notice the next part of the verse ... "And if someone asks about your Christian hope ..."
Darryn, earn that right and you won't have to go "evangelizing" anyone. If you're radiating hope, people will start asking you questions. Everywhere you go, people are going to be curious and wonder what's the secret of your love, joy, peace, patience ... and so on. "Wow, opportunities for spiritual conversations are going to be all around me everyday. "
Next phrase ... "... always be ready to explain [the hope you have]. This required some thought. I had to imagine the perfect scenario. If someone sincerely asked me why I followed Christ, ... with no judgment, they didn't think I was a religious wacko, they were hungry for my honest answer ... what would I say.
I think the real reason why there is so much fear about this issue is that we've never taken the time to be able to articulate simply and clearly why we are a Christian.
I started thinking about my own journey. What's my story? What is Jesus changing in my life?
Final phrase ... "But do this in a gentle and respectful way." I began to think about this phrase over and over again in my mind. I tried to imagine being genuinely gentle and respectful with anyone about anything. Would any reasonable person ever reject me for being gentle and respectful? In fact, if I was ever mocked for being respectful to someone ... well, that would be their problem, not mine. That might just produce more humility in me (THE most attractive human quality). That would be a good thing!
By meditating on this ONE verse, the Holy Spirit renewed my mind and set me free from the fear of telling people about Jesus.
Free from the prison of fear, my creativity was unleashed. There were things that fear prevented me from ever thinking about.
How can I earn the right to be heard?
What can I say and do to produce honest questions?
What difference does Jesus really make?
What do Christians do that makes them come off angry and superior?
What is the most respectful thing anyone has ever said to me?
Do I love them or do I just want a "sinner's prayer?"
Am I gentle person?
The questions keep coming, and they shape my prayers. "Jesus, make me gentle. Apart from you I can't do it, because I can be so Type-A! ... I know you want to produce that fruit in me."
Heartland Church exists because of 1 Peter 3:15-16. It changed my life. That's the power of meditating on the Word of God.
"... you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32 (NLT)