For a good while, I’ve identified my ministry strengths and weaknesses in a certain way. I am a strong pastor, or “shepherd.”‘ I have a real love for people, and I want to protect and care for them. I am a decent teacher. I am organized and am able to study the context and background of a passage, draw out the main point, and illustrate and apply it in a way that clicks.
But when asked my weaknesses? Evangelism tops the list. Just flat out sharing the good news about Jesus with people I may or may not know is not something I’ve been skilled at. I took an assessment last year in preparation for planting churches, and it confirmed my suspicions; evangelism is my weakest area.
But why? I mean, if I truly believe what I claim to, then I’m a real jerk to not share it. If I saw that a bridge was out, turned my car around, and passed all the cars headed toward the abyss without a word, what kind of person would I be? But that’s what I’m doing here.
I think that the root of the problem actually lies with something else that I am deficient in: empathy. I have about as much of it as Darth Vader has organic limbs. A lot of the teaching that I have experienced regarding evangelism is very empathy-focused. It says “this person will die and live an eternity of agony apart from Christ.” Well, true, but, as horrible as it sounds, for some reason that doesn’t make me rush out the door to share the Gospel. It should, and I hope one day it will, but it doesn’t. I used to question whether that was because I didn’t truly believe it deep down myself. But I’ve studied, prayed, and dug to the depths of my soul, and I absolutely believe it as much as I believe that I should wear pants. I just lack empathy, and, as a result, I lack urgency.
But do you know what I have plenty of? Compassion. I may be terrible at putting myself in someone else’s shoes unless I really focus on it, but I truly care about people, and those who are “without” break my heart. And those who aren’t Christians are “without” indeed. They are without a relationship with the God who loved them enough to die a brutal, criminal’s death on a dirty piece of wood in order to pay the ransom for their sins against none other than Himself. They are without the absolutely real hope, peace, and true joy that I have found in Him and Him alone. And they are without the simple faith that will not only keep them from the worst place imaginable, but will send them to the best.
Sometimes we have to just recognize and admit our weaknesses, evaluate our strengths, and figure out the best way to proceed with what we know to do. Paul wrote in Philippians 1:18 “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” What is important is that you share it in whatever way the Lord has wired you to do so. Where your heart is is important also, but sometimes it just has to catch up to your actions.
So, I won’t share Jesus because people will go to Hell if I don’t. I will share Him because I don’t want them to be without the greatest thing there is. Find what makes you tick, play it to your advantage, pray, and be relentless.