Patricia, Patricia, Patricia. I just can’t seem to stop thinking of Patricia. I wish I could, but I can’t. Sometimes, I can put her out of my mind for a period of time, but something always happens which makes me think of her again, and it seems to have gotten worse over time. I even told my wife about it, but that hasn’t helped at all.
I’ve known Patricia for over 15 years. At first, she was just another employee of mine. But a couple years ago, things took a turn and now I can’t get her out of my mind. You see, Patricia is the name that comes immediately to my mind every time a pastor says, “Go out and share the Good News with someone who needs it.” And that would be Patricia! She’s sort of a lost soul, in a difficult marriage, alienated from portions of her family, with alcohol being used by people who shouldn’t. Lots of struggling in lots of ways that a relationship with Jesus could really help.
So why haven’t I stepped up and shared the Good News with her? I wish I had a good answer.
I tell myself it’s because she is an employee and my very secular company would frown on it. They’ve invested a lot of time training us all how NOT to harass or offend one another, right down to proscriptions on perfumes and colognes! So instead of “harassing” her with the Gospel, I tell myself I’ll win her over to Christ through the example of my shining lifestyle, and I’ll mention my church a lot! Good idea – but it isn’t working. Not once has she asked me about the light shining from my hilltop! Maybe I just don’t glow brightly enough for this strategy to bear fruit, or maybe it’s because she knew me when my light didn’t shine at all.
So what is really stopping me from doing what I know is right and good? Why can’t I follow through on what God has been urging me to do and pastors have been screaming (figuratively speaking) for me to do? Why is sharing the Gospel so hard for me? Am I afraid of the awkwardness it may cause in our working relationship? Am I scared I won’t do it well? Am I worried she will think I’m weird because I believe in a supernatural God and the transformative powers of His Son and Spirit? Am I concerned I won’t have the right answers to any questions she may have?
Yes, yes, yes and yes. And yes, those are horrible excuses. So I googled it, and here is what I learned from Ken Currie, director of Campus Outreach Minneapolis, in his article “That Awkward Moment When We Speak the Gospel” as presented on DesiringGod.org.
“Why would God make something that we long to do so difficult to do?
For some Christians, it isn’t that difficult to evangelize. In fact, these tend to be confused as to why so few Christians are involved in ongoing, bold evangelism. If this is you, I want to tell you, we praise God for your boldness. And you should know, you are a bit weird. For you, awkwardness is just an abstract concept. For the rest of us, awkwardness is like a plague to be avoided at all costs. But this is an example of the different parts in the body of Christ making their specific contribution to God’s glory and the advance of his kingdom.
So why is something so important and integral to the Christian life so difficult for so many? Here’s one answer: God gives most of us this awareness of awkwardness so that we would never, not for a second, trust in or magnify ourselves and drift away from the magnificence of the gospel. This awareness in evangelism makes the gospel tangible. It means I need the gospel right now myself. Not only does my hearer need Jesus at this moment, but so do I!
Jesus died for disciples who do a poor job of witnessing. He died for those of us who have all too often failed to commend him because we feared it might get awkward. But he also died to give us the grace to press through the awkwardness to testify to him.
May God give us the grace to rebound from our many failures and grace not to fold in the face of awkwardness in telling others the most important news in the world.” – Ken Currie
Thank you Ken. I needed that. So, once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. Wish me luck, pray for me to overcome my fear of awkwardness, and let me finally tell Patricia the Good News she needs to hear!