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#1 Be Pneumatic – There is no “cut and dry” way to witness to someone who does not want to listen to you. These moments are Spirit-led, as opportunities come, and you step into them. Pray for wisdom to know what to do in each unique moment. When they come, you will be “prayed ready” to respond pneumatically. Your God-centered confidence about His leadership in your life is essential.
#2 Provide Resources – In most cases, it’s better to give the person something like an email, article, or short video. Items sitting around his home or bookmarked on his computer are more likely to be looked at because he can choose the timing. If you “tell” him something, which is not wrong, but he may not be ready or willing to hear it. He can dismiss it, and it vaporizes. Things provided to him have a more useful shelf life.
#3 Create Thirst – You can lead a horse to water, and you CAN make him drink if you put salt in his oats. You will have to ask God how to salt his oats. A key component to discipleship (or evangelism) is creating a thirst in the person you’re helping. “Thirst creation” is a wisdom issue; it’s a gift from the Lord. Ask God to give that gift to you.
#4 Pray for the End – As long as people can function within their strengths, they do not see any purpose in relying on the Lord. Not until after a person goes “beyond his strengths” that he will seek someone more powerful. Read 2 Corinthians 1:8-9.
Most people believe if they can manage their lives, there is little need for God. Marriage and children are two contexts that push people “beyond their strengths” to where they look for answers that are different from how they normally do things.
#5 Play the Long Game – Think about the long game rather than the short game. Statistically speaking, you can do that with most people…if they are young, even if they are in their fifties. The real goal is heaven in the afterlife, not heaven on earth.
I realize the sooner a person trusts Christ, the less damage they may cause to himself and others, but it’s imperative you not create an artificial timeline for their change. Pushing them too soon or too hard is usually disruptive, and rarely works.
#6 Don’t Be the Mini-Messiah – We have a Savior, and it’s not you. Don’t over-worry or over-strategize, especially if this is a relative. I realize it is hard to watch a family member march to hell. Sometimes I feel like I’m sitting in a chair at the rim of the Grand Canyon as folks step by me, with a spiritual blindfold covering their eyes. Learning when to speak or not to speak is a wisdom issue.
#7 Guard Your Heart – You may be tempted to be impatient. Impatience is a behavior that reveals a heart that is not resting in Christ. Impatience is particularly hard to discern when your desires are good, and desires for people to change are good ones.
Impatience speaks specifically to a self-reliant heart: “I’m gonna force the issue rather than patiently water and plant while trusting the Lord to bring change.” Self-reliance springs from a heart of unbelief, a heart that is trusting God to work His good purposes in your life and theirs.
Here are a few other things to look for that point to an untrusting heart: worry, frustration, anxiety, fear, criticalness, slander/gossip, self-righteousness, arrogance, and sinful judging.
#8 Find a Friend – I have found having a “sounding board” (friend) to talk through these things is helpful. Of course, coming here to our forums is a good thing.
#9 Ask for the Door – Ask God to give you doors of opportunities to speak the truth in love. Then sit in the weeds, waiting, watching, expecting the Lord to open those doors for you. Those doors are your allies–the people or things that will assist you. Perhaps a relative, friend, or mentor are avenues for you to explore to reach this person.
Another ally you have is the conscience of the person you want to persuade. The “inner voice” (Romans 2:14-15) accuses and excuses us. All people “do the things in the law” even if they are not Christians. Regardless of their presupposition, God made them in His image. Use their “inner voice” to your advantage.
#10 Make Universal Assumptions – Think about how you struggle. The person you want to reach struggles in similar ways that you struggle. Use what you know about yourself to speak into humanities everyday struggles and temptations. Please carefully read my article, Twelve Universal Assumptions You Can Make about Anyone. You will find that he is like you, which will give you the doors you need to think about him. And then, when they open, you walk through them.
Rick Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers. RickThomas.Net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology, and in 1991 he received a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).