I'm a Christian with a fear of witnessing. How can I overcome it?
Our ability or desire to tell others about Jesus may be hampered by shyness, fear of rejection, inability to explain the gospel, little knowledge of the Bible, a small faith, or other reasons. Yet we know we are called to share the gospel with others and make disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:19–20). How can we overcome our fears and witness more boldly?
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Paul is an example of a bold witness for Christ, and he asked others for prayers for his work (Ephesians 6:19). One thing we can do is pray for ourselves, and ask others to pray for us, to ask that God will help us overcome fear and give us courage as well as wisdom in how to best witness. This can help prepare us to witness.
We also prepare ourselves by being familiar with God's Word, both in the content of the gospel as well as in God's promises for us. Second Timothy 3:16–17 says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." When we know more of God's love through His Word, we can trust Him more and be less afraid to share His truth. We're also more convinced of His truth and come to understand how important it is to witness about Him to others.
Another important aspect of preparation is to make sure that we are living a consistent life that pleases God. Attend a church that teaches the Bible, and study it on your own (especially the Gospel of John), asking God to help you understand what He wants you to know. Seek to live in the way Jesus has called us to and so be a light to the world that points to Him (Matthew 5:14–16).
Follow the example of Jesus. He spoke the truth to Nicodemus, the woman at the well, blind and infirmed people, religious scholars, government officials, fishermen, tax collectors, family, and friends. Jesus was compassionate and also tailored His sharing of truth to each person to whom He spoke. We, too, should take into account to whom we are witnessing and share God's truth in a way they can understand and receive it.
Love is the key to showing people the truth about Jesus, as we learn in the Gospel of John. The Holy Spirit will help you to love people instead of arguing with them, to have compassion rather than dismissiveness, to motivate you to show others the goodness of Jesus. Ask Him to help you. He will begin to put people in your path who are interested in hearing about God, interested in what you know about Jesus, and curious about how you make decisions in your life. Your job will be to lovingly speak the truth to them about your life and about Jesus. First Peter 3:15 instructs, "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect."
Increasingly, people around you—your coworkers, neighbors, friends—have never heard the truth about Jesus. Those who have, or think they know about Jesus, usually have one of three main objections to Him, including a fear of God, an ambivalence about Him, and a distrust or even hatred of Him. Familiarize yourself with these stances and don't be surprised if people reject you and the message of Jesus. But also remember that it is not your job to convert someone. The Holy Spirit does the work in a person's heart (John 16:8; 1 Corinthians 3:5–9; Titus 3:5). We are called to love people, which includes telling them God's truth. Rejection can be painful, but Jesus knew this and says that we are blessed when we are rejected for His sake (Luke 6:22). Our approval and worth come from God, not from how others respond to His message.
Many Christians successfully share the gospel by developing a brief story of how they came to a saving knowledge of Jesus and how He has transformed their life. Memorize a few key verses about the gospel and bookmark others. While your personal testimony may be helpful, the gospel—the truth of Jesus—is ultimately what needs to be shared. So make sure that your story is primarily about Jesus and communicates His message of salvation. Your preparation will bless your own relationship with Christ and allow you to plant some seeds in others so that the Holy Spirit can do His work (John 3:8).
Remember, that as Jesus gave us the Great Commission to make disciples, He promised us His presence: "I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20). So do not fear, but trust in He who has saved you and brought you from death to life (John 5:24).
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