I was having a conversation with a few others about Jesus a few weeks ago and for much of it, the main thought running through my mind was, “This isn’t how it’s supposed to go.”
There was no clicking with any of my analogies or stories. There was no dawning realization of the amazingness of Jesus. And there was certainly no life-changing “salvation moment”. Now, I didn’t actually expect the latter, but I had sneaky hopes on the first two…maybe at least an opening to possibilities…but no.
And it just reinforced the idea that I simply am not an evangelist – at least in the traditional understanding of the word, ie I am not good at verbally sharing my faith with non-Christians.
The conversation left me feeing very upset with myself and full of guilt that I hadn’t done a good job of representing who Jesus really is. As it happens, this conversation came about as I was preparing a talk for Ignite centered on Jesus in the Old Testament. So not exactly a morale booster leading into the talk, in fact, I wondered if I should even be speaking at all.
Some things that we learn at a young age are very hard to shake off. Especially when they are learned in the context of “spiritual truths”.
As a young Christian eager to soak up knowledge, I accepted the “fact” that good disciples of Christ had to be good evangelists. And good evangelists could talk about Jesus anywhere, with anyone, at any time.
In the thirty-odd years since, God has graciously revealed spiritual truths that are both wider and more detailed at the same time, as well as reinforcing one truth that has remained exactly the same throughout everything: His grace covers all.
I still have an automatic kickback reaction when moments like that conversation happen. I go through a period of wallowing in self-disgust and general ickiness (there really is no better word). But then He gives me a gentle nudge, a foot up, and sometimes even a great big “well done, my child.”
Turns out, I just prefer the written to spoken word. Whatever way my brain is wired, I communicate better through “pen and paper” (remember those things?) than through my lips. I also love logically explaining things, lining up facts and examples. And I am a fiend for analogies that are relatable and bring about connection and understanding.
These aren’t necessarily great traits for a conversationalist, but they’re actually pretty useful for teachers. The APEST (Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, Teacher) assessment was one of those “wider, more detailed spiritual truths” that God graciously led me to.
Turns out, it’s ok that I’m not an evangelist (however you define it). He doesn’t need or require me to be one. He just asks that I use the gifts I was given in a way that serves Him and others. Turns out, when you are using your natural-born gifts to serve, it’s actually a delight and privilege as opposed to a chore and responsibility.
And when I do feel I have “failed”, He reminds me:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Cor 12:9