By Dan Spoelstra
Director of Youth Discipleship
Do you ever feel anxious, nervous, reserved or apprehensive about how to talk with someone facing difficult life issues? Maybe you find yourself thinking something like, “Should I just listen? Should I give advice? Or maybe I should just run and pretend I didn’t know that they were serious about sharing with me?”
It’s easy to feel nervous when it comes to helping someone, especially if you don’t feel like you have all the answers. There are so many big questions in life. Sometimes it can feel better to just sit quietly, instead of feeling like you’ve screwed up the correct answer and turned them off from the idea of God even more.
When people are experiencing pain and suffering, it can be hard to show someone God’s love and compassion. But that is usually the perfect time to engage as Christians in the lives of those who are hurting. The truth is that there is only one way to help someone truly look at the past as a place of reference and not residence. Only one way to help someone understand how today (the present) is a gift. There’s only one way to look into tomorrow through the lens of hope. That way is through the saving love, grace and forgiveness that God gave us. We often think about love as a feeling, like it’s something that happens to us. The truth is that ‘love’ is a verb – something we have to actively do. The Bible tells us that there is no greater love than laying down one’s life for a friend (John 15:13) – and that’s exactly what Jesus did for us!
When it comes to helping others, I find it most helpful to remember that God has already actively shown love to me first, and so I can then show love to others too. Sometimes, that looks like doing something (making a meal, mowing a lawn, walking a dog), but it can also look like “showing up” – being present in someone’s pain, sitting with them during a hard time, or simply listening to their sorrow.
In all of the ways that you show love, whether small or big, it can be scary. For example, public speaking terrifies some people! Personally, I find that it helps to be really knowledgeable on the topic. My memory isn’t so great, especially with names and dates, so I don’t risk just memorizing facts. I really dig in and research a topic, so that no matter what happens, I feel secure in what I’m talking about and can engage with people authentically. It brings an assuredness that I can make it through, even though I might make mistakes.
When it comes to sharing the Gospel, I see it in a similar light. Learn as much as you can so that you can be ready to give an answer when people ask (1 Peter 3:15). With that in mind, here are a few tips that you can think about as you consider sharing the good news about Jesus with others:
- Know the Truth: Most of us have heard and memorized John 3:16 during our lives. It’s a wonderful verse, but adding how we can have an intimate relationship with the Creator of all is something no other religion or source of inspiration can ever say (John 17:3). We have a God that came to us, died for us and lives in us through the Holy Spirit! Nothing else in this world can give us such peace and hope.
- Spend time in God’s Word: Having a true intimate relationship with God will help us with our own anxieties and issues. We can then lead as an example of how to work through difficult situations. The best place to do that is through reading the Bible and talking to those God has put in our lives.
- Be Hopeful: When we truly focus on God and spend time with Him, it will help others to see us as light; being joyful even in the hard times. This will lead to questions and opportunities. Sometimes we draw blanks or won’t know the answer all the time – and that’s ok! Don’t let pride or fear turn you away from an opportunity God gave you to share His redemption story. You can always share that you’re not sure but that you can get back to them (but don’t stall! You do actually have to look up an answer and get back to them!).
- Be Excited: Something that really helps me share the Gospel is my excitement of what truly happened. Think about it: God in Heaven, needing nothing from us, came to a world He created, born in a dirty, smelly barn. He grew up being chased by those who wanted to kill Him. He taught us how to love and not kill, how to help and not destroy, how to forgive and not be bitter. And what did we do? We crucified Him! What a mercy that He loves us so much that when He rose from the dead, Jesus essentially handed us the keys to Heaven. Oh what a love that is! If that doesn’t get you excited, I’m not sure what will!
- Know your Stuff: Like I said earlier, take the time to study what you want to know. I love studying the science behind God’s creation, and there are many scientific tools you can use to show the awe and wonder of God. I love the Passion series with Louie Giglio – from the Whirlpool galaxy to the tiny lamnin proteins in our cells, there is something that points to God in everything! All things were created and held together through Him (Colossians 1:16-17).
I know that it can all feel very intimidating but do not fear! The Bible reminds us over and over again that God will give you strength and courage. As a believer, you have a testimony and the Holy Spirit will work through you. God goes before you; we simply have to be willing to overcome the fear of not being enough. You are not working alone – God is already working on your friends, neighbours and family members to plant the seed of the Gospel in their hearts. To help someone feel the hope and peace that comes through Jesus Christ will be the most infectious and fulfilling feeling you will ever have! God doesn’t need us, but He wants us, and what an amazing opportunity we have. Seeing the light in someone when they realize what was done for them is totally worth the nervousness.