When I was a teenager, sharing my faith felt like a never-ending homework assignment, hanging over my head at all times. I felt like I never did it enough and never did it right, and I was worried I wouldn’t make it to heaven if I didn’t do it more. Have you ever felt that way?
Now things have changed and I feel completely different about sharing my faith. It’s become a far more natural part of my life—something that’s motivated by love instead of motivated by fear. So today I want to share five things that have helped change my perspective, and I hope they can help you as well!
1. Look at your motives.
It’s easy to approach sharing the gospel out of fear. Here are a few examples:
- “If I don’t say something right now and this person gets into a car accident and dies and goes to hell, it’ll be all my fault!”
- “If I don’t tell enough people, will I go to heaven?”
- “If I tell this person about Jesus, then people at church will think I’m a really good Christian.”
But here’s the thing: When our motivation is fear, the people we’re talking to can tell—and they’ll feel used. It will seem as though we’re telling them about Jesus to ensure our own salvation, appease our own conscience or make ourselves look good.
And the cool thing is God can use anything! Anytime we share about Him, He can use that (which is good news because I don’t think we’ll ever have perfect motivations). But for me, it helped to think about why I was sharing the gospel, and I realized that genuine love should be my “why.” Here’s what I mean:
- “Jesus has changed my entire life for the better, and I couldn’t imagine life without Him. I really want this person to know how He can do the same for them!”
- “I love this person so much and can see how much they would enjoy being loved by God. I just want them to know how much He loves them!”
It’s almost like when you fall in love, and you just want to tell everyone how amazing your new boyfriend is. Or when you find a product that completely fixes your acne after a huge, long battle trying tons of different treatments, and now you want to tell anyone it could possibly help. It’s not about being pushy; it’s just sharing what has helped you because you love the other person.
In my opinion, that’s a much better approach to sharing the gospel: from love, not from fear.
2. Be friends to be friends, not to “get someone saved.”
This is huge. I think it’s easy to give the impression that we’re only friends with someone to try to “get them saved.” This leaves people feeling used and devalued, which is the opposite of how God feels about them.
If I’m going to be friends with someone, we are going to be friends whether or not they come to know the Lord. And sometimes I will pray for more friends who don’t know God because I want people to know about Jesus, because I’ve seen how much joy He’s brought into my own life! (And I also don’t ever want to get stuck in a totally Christian bubble.) But I’m definitely not going to stop being friends with someone if they don’t become a Christian.
That said, our friends are very influential in our lives, so it’s important to be careful about whom you choose to be your closest friends. We can have acquaintance friends and then we can have close friends who play a significant role in our lives. And those close friends make a big difference in the person you become, so it’s important to choose them wisely.
For example, one of my weaknesses is my struggle with body image. Because of that, I’ve found that I can’t be super-close friends with people who are absorbed by what they look like or I’ll be very tempted to start struggling with weight and body image again. I know some Christians who fall into this category and so I can’t be close friends with them.
But I also have some non-Christian friends who are a great influence on me! I can think of one friend in particular who inspires me to love people better whenever I’m with her. She doesn’t know the Lord, but I would consider her to be one of my good friends.
So just be careful as you choose close friends (no matter what their faith), and ask yourself: “Do I like who I become when I’m with this person?”
But back to my point: As you’re genuine friends with someone, as you spend time together and are there for them in hard times, then they’ll know you care. And that will make it so they can actually hear your heart and your love when you tell them how much Jesus loves them.
3. Watch (and ask) for opportunities.
I love asking God for opportunities to share about Him, because He loves to answer that prayer! And then I just have to keep my eye out so I can see the opportunities when they pop up. Here are two things I watch for:
- God’s nudges. Only He knows when someone’s heart is ready to hear about Him. So if I sense Him nudging my spirit, I know it’s time to say something. For me, His nudges feel like the nervousness before a race, and my heart beats faster, and I know I need to say something. It can feel different for different people, though. Sometimes I’ll get that feeling with total strangers, too! I’ve been on planes and in stores when I suddenly sense God wants me to tell someone how much He loves them. Those are the scariest times for me, but I’ve seen God open up crazy opportunities!
- Questions from others. Although everyone who knows me knows I’m a Christian, I also typically don’t share my faith unless God puts it in my heart or a person asks me about it. When someone asks me, or I see an opening in our conversation, I just share a little bit unless the person wants to keep talking. For example, a friend once asked how I could forgive a person for treating me so badly. I got to share very briefly that it was because God had forgiven me for so much as well. That was it. She didn’t have any more questions and we moved on to another subject. But other times, the person has wanted to keep talking, and we’ve talked about God for hours. I just try to listen to what they want to hear, and just share that, so I don’t come across as being pushy.
4. You—yes, you!—have a testimony.
I think the best way to share our faith is to share what God has done in our own lives…but you don’t have to have an I-almost-died-doing-drugs-when-Jesus-showed-up-in-a-vision story in order to have a testimony. Your testimony can simply be knowing that God is faithful and knowing how much He loves you.
When I was 15, I went on a mission trip, and my team leaders asked me to share my testimony. I remember this feeling of panic gripping my throat. “What testimony?” I thought. “I’m homeschooled, my dad was a kids’ pastor when I was growing up and I’ve always walked with God. Should I go out and do drugs tonight so I have a testimony tomorrow?”
That night as I was praying, I felt like God spoke to me from John 15:27, where Jesus asks the disciples to testify of Him because they’ve been with Him since the beginning. God started showing me that I could testify to His faithfulness as someone who had walked with Him her whole life.
Whether you’ve walked with God your whole life or you’ve walked through a whole lot of pain, brokenness and mistakes, you—yes, you!—can testify to what God has done and who He is.
And I think this is the most powerful way we can share our faith: to share what God has done in our own lives, and talk about our relationship with Him.
5. Remember that only God can save someone.
I’ll never forget learning that a former coworker of mine had passed away in a car accident. I immediately felt overcome by guilt. When I worked at the restaurant where I met her, I’d had the opportunity to share about Jesus with some of my coworkers, but this one had never asked me, and I’d never had it on my heart to talk with her, so I hadn’t. I remember feeling like her blood was on my hands, feeling so awful that she wasn’t with Jesus and thinking it was all my fault.
A few days later, I met with some of my former youth leaders and mentioned this to them. Somehow in the story, I told them her name. They stopped me. “Wait, are you talking about this person?” They described her. It was the same girl. “She actually came to know the Lord a few months before she died! We know that because she started coming to our church!”
I still get goosebumps remembering that story.
I learned a valuable lesson that day: God is the only one who can save someone. All I am responsible to do is bravely share what He gives me to share, in the opportunities He provides. The rest is up to Him, and He wants people to know Him far more than I ever could. So I can trust Him. That takes away all fear.
I hope these five tips can help you as they’ve helped me!
What else would you add to this list? Comment below!