I’ve been wrestling with the same idea for months on end now. See, I get really intimidated around anyone else who’s been doing ministry. There are a lot of pastors, campus ministers, etc. in my life that I know, they know I’m a Christian, and they all share one thing in common: they intimidate me.
Not deliberately, that is – nobody sets out with the intent of putting me down or making me feel like less. No, I’m convinced I’m the one who makes myself feel like less. I believe it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent” (but that’s another story for still another blog.) But for months now I’ve wondered why it is that I feel intimidated by people in ministry and church leadership. I began to chalk it up to a lack of experience and a naivete toward ministry. But as I examine that further and really break down what that means, I come upon a secret which I’m afraid to admit, but I think that a transparent blog demands it to be done.
I’ve never led anyone to Jesus.
I’ve never invited someone to church.
I’ve never discipled a new or struggling Christian.
I suppose those are three secrets, but for the sake of accountability, I want to bring them out. Now, I have four things to do with these. First, expose the excuses I’ve used for them; second, give myself grace for them; third, explain how they’ve contributed to my being intimidated; fourth, think of ways to reverse this trend.
I’ve not led anyone to Jesus, but I still have preached the gospel from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. That’s an excuse, because public and private disciplines are entirely different. I’ve encountered this with Bible reading in general – the private practice of familiarizing oneself with God’s word solidifies a public reading of it and gives it a certain degree of merit, I believe. I can’t help but believe that until I lead someone to Jesus in my everyday life, my preaching will be somewhat less effective in terms of its evangelistic value. I can’t explain it, but in the Kingdom of God, that just seems to be the way it works.
I excuse the second by using my fear of rejection. But subtly so, I convince myself that people are tired of being invited to church (as though it happens often!) and that people just don’t want to hear it, and then finally that people will just say no, so why bother? But that’s not a good excuse, because – let’s face it, Jesus’ whole life risked rejection. He WAS rejected and despised by men (Isaiah 53:3,) and He continues to be to this day. So if Jesus is my example, shouldn’t I equally risk rejection?
For the third, I excuse it on the grounds that I haven’t seen a particular opportunity. My rebuttal to that is that I haven’t even looked that hard! But more on that in a bit.
I know, I know, it kind of sounds like an excuse (but mercy often is excusing) but it’s also true. I’m 22 and about 6 or 7 in the faith, and it can be different learning how to evangelize when life changes a lot. Since I became a Christian, I’ve been through high school, college, and six months out of school. I’ve changed jobs a few times, too – so some of the lessons I’ve learned have been internally transforming. Now before I go on excusing myself I’ll get to my point: I’ve got (God willing) a lot of time ahead of me, and to be quite honest, I think the best grace to me at this point is this very thing: I see now that it’s an issue in my life, and I can from here go on to remedy it (which will be addressed later.)
I’d also like to extend myself a little grace on discipleship on the grounds that I think I have more influence on the lives of young men in our church than I think I do. I’m able to work a job, do my schoolwork well, and show young men in our church by example what it looks like to love Jesus with a job, with schoolwork, and to love His church.
Contributing to intimidation
Let me break it down in terms I understand: sports! HA!
I was writing in my journal this morning, doing some reverse-engineering (which asks three questions: where do I want to be? Where am I? How do I get there?) and as I was writing about this particular issue, the Lord reminded me of how, as sports fans, we like to criticize and think we could empathize with the grind of the athletes. But naivete in ministry stems from spectatorship: from watching and not doing! It’s like me telling a baseball player that I, too, am a ball player, and when he asks me my longest home run or my career highlight, I have none to give.
In other words, I’m intimidated because I haven’t done any of it yet!
DO IT! Ha.
I consider it a mercy that God has shown me all of this, and I hope my heart has been clear. Just as with anything in my life, I want to expose the excuses I use while also extending myself a little bit of grace. But since grace is for change, then change is the next logical step, not compromise. And it tends to be the pattern of God that when a problem is exposed, it is soon after dealt with. I’m excited because I imagine that since this has been exposed, than soon evangelism will happen soon in my life!
God brought to mind also the verse in which Jesus says, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21.) So the first step in getting my heart into evangelism is to invest myself there. Emotional and relational treasure counts, and it looks like expending energy in those arenas instead of hoarding it. I trust Jesus on this, because if you look at it financially, it makes perfect sense. When I was younger, I spent countless money on music, and I was obsessed with music. It was all I thought about it. Then movies, DVDs, and video games were where I invested my money, and also my energy and attention! Now that I’m getting older and spending differently, I’m finding that I find myself praying more for the campus missionary I support, and I believe that’s because I think about the money that goes his way, and it reminds me to pray for him.
In other words, I think that as I expend my energy and time towards others, my heart will go their way more often.
I hope you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read, I hope you can relate (or, well, not – because if you don’t relate than you either have led someone to Jesus or you don’t care to!) and finally, I hope you give me as much grace as I give myself (which, I believe, is a fraction of what God gives.) My top concern in writing this is the fact that I am preaching twice in the upcoming two months, and I’d hate to have someone not listen because of what I’ve written here.