I’m occasionally asked to train people to share the Gospel, sometimes at evangelism camps. Whenever I begin training of this nature, there are always students present who have never shared their faith or the offer of Salvation. As a result, there is usually some trepidation on the part of the students. When I sense this anxiety, I ask what is causing my audience to be fearful about sharing the Gospel. Here is what they say:
“I’m afraid I will look or sound stupid.”
“I’m afraid I will forget what to say or I will say the wrong thing.”
“I’m afraid I will get ‘cussed out’ by someone I meet.”
“I’m afraid I won’t know how to start the conversation and it will be awkward.”
“I’m afraid someone will want to fight me!”
Students express some of the same fears their older counterparts describe when I teach this material across the country. Our fears are almost always driven by the same underlying concern. Can you see it in the responses I’ve described? My students, courageous and sacrificial enough to give up their time to participate in an evangelism adventure, expose the same anxieties most of us have when it comes to evangelism. Their fears are centered myopically in their concern for how they were going to appear to the world around them.
We are afraid about how we might look or what might happen to us. Will we experience something awkward or embarrassing? Will we become uncomfortable? Will we experience some pain? Most of our fear of evangelism is centered on our own desire to be comfortable, and there’s nothing more uncomfortable than being embarrassed or humiliated by our peers. For most of us, it’s bad enough that we might look foolish to strangers, but there’s also the very real possibility that we’ll look foolish to our peers!
So my first goal in training is to simply help people get comfortable with discomfort by helping them take their eyes off themselves and placing them firmly on God. I try to remind people that character is more important than comfort. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that our worldly image is more important than our heavenly mission. As Christians, we ought to know better:
1 John 2:15-17
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Sometimes our fears expose what’s really important to us, so they’re a good place to assess and address our priorities. What are you afraid of? What’s keeping you from sharing the Gospel with the people in your life, even the strangers who you meet every day? It might just be that (like me) you’re often more concerned with your own comfort than you are with the cause of Christ. It’s easy to worry more about the world we see than the Kingdom that matters. But we can change all that. We can conquer our fears by simply changing our focus.