You’re having a conversation with your friend and an opportunity for a faith conversation comes up. Maybe your friend said she was feeling unfulfilled or was looking for more out of life. Maybe you watched a movie that had Christian themes. Maybe you discussed the death of a loved one or how to find hope when the world is so broken.
But instead of taking advantage of the opportunity, you let it pass by. She’ll think I’m weird, you think. Or I might offend her with something I say. Besides, if she has any questions about the Bible, I might not know how to answer them. It would be awkward. So time goes by and you never have that faith conversation, concerned about the awkwardness that might come from it.
Has that ever happened to you? I know it’s happened to me, more times than I’d like to admit. We have a natural aversion to awkward situations and try to avoid them. We also try to avoid things that make us nervous, and starting a conversation about faith and God with a friend is likely to be a nervous, awkward one.
“It’s okay,” says Jonah Jala, a digital missionary in Manila. “I’ve been sharing my faith since I became a Christian for ten years now, but every time it still makes me nervous.”
One of the reasons you’re nervous is because you know the conversation is so important. “The message is heavy,” says Miheret Tilahun, a missionary with Cru. According to Miheret, the fear is a natural human response to the profound supernatural nature of the conversation as well as the vital impact it will have.
Getting past the nervousness
Humans are wired to avoid things that make us nervous. There is a biological reason for this, as fear of things like fire, heights, and wild animals keeps us from doing things that would cause us harm. The problem is we also let nervousness stop us from doing harmless things that we should do.
You can avoid the nervousness of a first date by never asking anyone out. You can avoid the nervousness of a job interview or of raising children by never applying to a job or having kids. But most people still do these things even though they make us nervous because we know they’re worth it.
I love roller coasters. But I really hate the beginning of the ride, when the coaster is slowly moving up the track toward the top. On the way up the track, I try not to look down so I won’t freak out, try to ignore the click click click of the chain as the coaster gets higher and higher, but really I just want to be safely on the ground. The ascent scares me every time but I still ride roller coasters because as soon as it gets to that first drop, the exhilaration of the ride is worth dealing with that initial tension.
So it is with sharing your faith. It might make you nervous, but it’s worth working through that tension because you have an incredibly opportunity to offer someone a gift of an eternal relationship with the God of the universe. “The fear of rejection for giving someone that gift should not exist,” says Liam Savage, Director of Innovation at OneHope. Miheret agrees. “The impact is eternal and it’s about life and death,” he says.
Okay, so we agree that it’s good to share your faith even if it makes you nervous. But what are some practical ways that you can deal with that nervousness?
Put it in perspective
For Miheret, it’s important to have the right perspective. If someone you loved was in danger, you would try to save them even if you were scared. “It’s about thinking about what will happen to this person if I don’t take this opportunity,” Miheret says.
Take some time to pray for the conversation. Ask God to give you strength, to open your friend’s heart, to give you the words to speak. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit can speak through you at opportune times.
Like most people, I am terrified of public speaking. I don’t think I’m very good at it and don’t have a lot of practice, but even so, on occasion I am asked to speak at conferences or Indigitous events. To comfort myself enough to function, I do two things. First, I pray. Then I remind myself of Balaam’s donkey. In Numbers 22, God got Balaam’s attention by speaking to him through his donkey. So before I start my talk, I always tell myself, “If God can speak through a donkey, He can speak through me.”
Going back to the example of being nervous about asking someone on a date, have you ever practiced that? Maybe you stood in front of a mirror and acted out how the conversation would go. I’m probably more neurotic than you, but I practice out what I’m going to say before I make a phone call, any phone call, even if it’s ordering food, because that’s what helps set me at ease. Try practicing a faith conversation in the mirror, in your head, or with another friend who is a believer.
Use a helpful digital tool
There are a lot of great tools out there to help you with spiritual conversations. You can use GodTools to walk through a Gospel presentation; it even has a Teach Me To Share tool to help you out. Tools like yesHEis or Voke are great for starting conversations around videos. Using one of these tools can help make the conversation more natural, just like when you’re trying to help your friend understand the plot of Tenet.
Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. (Habakkuk 2:2)
- Make a list of friends with whom you would like to have a faith conversation.
- Pray about the conversation.
- Practice the conversation.
- Look for an opportunity to share and when it comes, push through the awkwardness.