Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 1 Corinthians 9:19
What is the key to the good, effective witness of Andrew and Philip, or of anyone else? It is prayer and the willingness and ability to develop relationships. It boggles my mind how many Christians I know who have no significant relationships, friends, or even acquaintances outside of the church. They only know other Christians; they shop in other Christian’s businesses so that they are in a sub-culture of a “Christian-only mindset,” even to the point of monasticism without the piety. This is a travesty. Yes, we are to have fellowship, and our principle relationships should be with people who are in Christ. There is nothing wrong with shopping at other Christian’s businesses. But, how can we be salt and light if we never go where the salt and light are needed? God does not call us to separate from others; in fact it is the opposite. We are to go to them without being contaminated by them. Scripture warns us that we are to be the influencers, not the ones being influenced.
Are you a maker and builder of friends? How so? Why not? This is not about being an extrovert or having the “personality” to do so. Yes, some are better at it than others, but we are all called to make friends. To be honest, I am not good in this area. I score high as an extrovert on those personality inventories, but that is because of my profession as a pastor. I tend to go out of my way to meet and greet people, but I am really a natural introvert. I have to work at this. I had to learn to be a “go getter” of people to make friends and befriend people. Perhaps you need to do so, too.
1. Be purposeful! To whom are you going? We need to have a target before we can aim the Gospel.
2. Be real! Caution! Be genuine; guard against only getting to know people so you can witness to them. Yes, that is a primary reason, but, we are called to be in relationships. If people find out you are only interested in proselytizing, your witness will be compromised.
3. Be excellent! Do not be a nuisance, especially at work. A good Christian always does his or her work with excellence and fortitude and does not use company time for Gospel time.
4. Be willing to take the time! We have to be willing to go where the people are, and spend the time with them. It may take years for a missionary on the field to learn the language, the culture, and build connections before he or she can be used effectively.
5. Be a friend winner! The purpose of witnessing is to offer people a relationship with Christ. This is best done when we have a relationship with them. We win them as friends before we win them to our Lord.
6. Be a smile maker! Smile at people. It takes seventy-two muscles to frown, but only fourteen to smile. People love a smile. Think about how you feel when someone smiles at you, and realize how important it is to do so to others, too.
7. Be a person who uses a person‘s name. Call people by name! This is critically important to build an effective relationship, take the time to remember someone’s name, and use it. The sweetest music to anyone’s ear is the sound of his or her own name.
8. Be engaging! Speak to people. Take the chance. Step up to that plate and beyond your fears to engage someone in dialog. Be willing to keep your friends close but also to go outside of your clique and comfort zone to talk to others. There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word or an honest, friendly greeting. You know it when you get a nice greeting, so why not give one to others?
9. Be friendly and helpful! Most people I have known and observed who have few or no friends do not make the effort to be a friend. If you would like to have friends, then be friendly.
10. Be caring! Be genuinely interested in people. Take the time to listen and show your care. Plan your schedule so you have time for people. If you are always in a rush, your relationships will suffer greatly. People whom God wants to bring to you will be ignored, thereby wasting the help, ministry, and influence you could have given. Christian empathy means involvement and showing that you care.
11. Be pleasant and cordial! Be a person who is nice and engaging to others. Speak and act as if another is the most important person in the room, and do so as if it is genuine pleasure, as it should be.
12. Be considerate with the feelings of others! It will be appreciated. Each person is unique, created and loved by God. Acknowledge this, and make your responses to others in this light.
13. Be thoughtful of the opinions of others. There are three sides to every controversy or disagreement—yours, that of the other person, and that of God, which is the right one. We must not rely on our own presumptions and assumptions, because we do not have all of the facts. Seek to know and understand the other person’s perspective, and start your dialog with those agreements.
14. Be an encourager! Be generous with praise! Seek to find something that person has done that is good—a personality trait, what they are wearing, or a smile that you noticed—and let them know. Be the person who takes the time to encourage others, but do so honestly. No one likes a pretentious pretender. Most people go through their day, some even surrounded by Christians, and they never receive encouragement. Be an encourager!
15. Be cautious with criticism! No one likes to be condescended to or put down. There are times we are to correct others or motivate them in a better direction, but we must do so with an attitude of love and care, showing patience, respect, and tact while being firm.
16. Be ready to give your witness! What counts most in life is who we are in Christ and then responding with our gratitude for what He has done for us by doing for others.
17. Make relationships outside of your Christian subculture that are real and authentic; be the salt and the light. It is always more about how you are rather than about what you say.
© 2006, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org