“It’s going to be character that speaks the loudest”
It’s one thing to fly overseas and trek across mountain ranges to share the gospel where no one has heard it before, it’s another thing to share the gospel with the people around us right now. Representing Jesus and sharing the gospel can feel like a challenge sometimes when those around you seem resistant. This is especially true when those people are your family and friends!
Grace*, a YWAM Perth staff member, shares some of what she’s found over the years, having grown up in a “very secular household” and coming to faith as a young adult. She found that, though initially resistant or skeptical, her family’s views of her faith have changed over the years as they’ve observed her life. Her big take-away has been “It’s just my lifestyle, the choices that I've made only by the grace of God, that speaks the most to my family. They see the power of Jesus.”
She has found that prayer has made a big difference when spending time with her family. “Prayer opens things up, it breaks down spiritual strongholds, it pushes back spiritual barriers. There is a spiritual barrier to them knowing God and you can't break that off just with your good works. You’ve got to use spiritual tools because it's a spiritual stronghold. So pray!”
Grace explains that listening well is an important part of valuing people and showing care. It can also really open up conversations as you understand more of people’s beliefs. “I listen a lot. I don't just talk over them or just wait for my turn to talk. I want to listen to where they're actually at... If they're open and bold and unashamed of their worldview and belief system, then I see that as an automatic open door for me to be bold and open and unashamed.”
In digging into topics that go deeper, she has found that it’s powerful to lead the way in being vulnerable herself. “Sharing about how I'm doing, being transparent and vulnerable myself can get [the conversation] deep quick.” This approach has led to many meaningful conversations and opportunities to pray for family members.
But not everyone’s ready to go deeper. Not everyone’s ready to talk about Jesus yet, and that’s okay too. “If they just don't want to hear your words, then just be a 1 Corinthians 13 Christian. Be loving and kind and forgiving and not holding wrongs and believing the best. Lead by example; how you respond to family issues is going to speak to them. How you choose to live your life is going to speak louder than words. It’s going to be character that speaks the loudest”
Can you identify with Grace’s experience of seeking to represent Jesus to family and friends? Sometimes it can be challenging to navigate these kinds of interactions. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Remain committed to loving others, even when it's hard.
“Love is patient, love is kind...” 1 Corinthians 13: 4
-Remember, someone’s opinions do not define who they are, they are a person made in God’s image.
-Keep a soft heart, ask God to help you see the other person as He sees them.
-Listen and ask questions to get more understanding and build bridges, not just to prove your own point.
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20
-Leave the results with God, pray. You can’t control how the other person will choose to respond, but you can take responsibility for how you treat them.
*name changed for privacy