Facing the Fear: Moving Past the Worry of Witnessing to Loved Ones
“…to conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom, in the pursuit of truth as in the endeavor after a worthy manner of life.” Bertrand Russell
Recently as I was working on a research and writing project, I came across a rather interesting and somewhat absurd list, one that I knew existed and had some sense of, but had never closely examined. This rather lengthy list alphabetized and categorized issues that terrify certain individuals to the point of utter captivity and bondage, it was simply called, Phobias. Now, let me begin by saying that I know that there are some very real fears, which have affected individuals deeply, and I by no means want to make light of that fact, though I am not sure what would bring a person to suffer from a case of Alliumphobia, which is a fear of garlic, unless of course you had a family member who insisted on kissing you repeatedly after eating a large garlic-laden meal, Alektorophobia, a fear of chickens, or Amathophobia-the fear of dust, unless you are one of my kids who seem to find something else to do, like come down with a fever, when I pull out the Pledge and a rag. However, there was one fear among several that I found particularly intriguing and somewhat applicable as it relates to witnessing, it is called, Atychiphobia. Atychiphobia is defined as, “the abnormal, unwarranted and persistent fear of failure.”
I think that if we are honest with ourselves, some of us do carry this fear within us as it relates not only to sharing our faith in general, but in particular with loved ones. Why might that be? There are several reasons:
- Your loved ones often know you best-and because they have insight into the “you” that you used to be, we sometimes worry that our past will be thrown back in our faces, we will be called hypocrites or we will be ridiculed in very personal ways that could do emotional damage.
- You May have tried and failed before-When I first got saved I was so excited by my new found faith that I became overwhelmed by the thought that many of my family and friends were not saved. As a result I became a one-woman crusade to save them. While my intentions were good, my overzealousness was not and I alienated some of my closest loved ones.
- You don’t want to lose relationship– We love our family and friends and we often want to maintain an open and loving relationship with them. However, sharing Christ with them may mean discussing behaviors, attitudes and beliefs that are sinful and which hinder relationship with Christ.
Here are some things in brief that you can do to help you face the fear of ministering to loved ones, no matter how open or resistant they may be:
Pray Fervently– James 5:16b NLT says, “…the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. In other words, before you speak what you believe needs to be heard, seek the Lord for His wisdom so that the words which you share come forth guided by the Holy Spirit, seasoned with salt and full of love.
Mind Your Zeal-It is wonderful that you have a desire to see loved ones come to a saving knowledge of Christ, however, overzealousness can alienate family and friends and cause them to feel frustrated, judged or downright resentful. Take your time ministering and be thoughtful as you speak to them. Rather than quoting endless scriptures, share your personal testimony about what the Lord has done in your life. Your honesty and vulnerability which gives glory to God alone can open significant doors.
Let Your Life Speak-We’ve all heard it said that our lives may be the only bible that someone ever reads. I have found this to be true in my life as a Christian. People would rather see us living our faith than simply talking about it. Let your life speak to such a degree that family and friends come to you with questions, concerns, and confessions. As you open your heart to them, and as you have prayed and sought the Lord, they may eventually say, “what must I do to be saved?”