Weaving the message of Jesus into our words and work:
IV. Proclamation - turning experience into words
A. Turning works into words (Avoid: "I want to give all the credit to Jesus")
"Joe, I just wanted to thank you for your interest in my brother's condition. That was really nice of you, and it meant a lot to Carla and I."
"Well, thanks, Bob for the kind words, but as for being 'nice', all I can say is "progress--finally!" (with a chuckle and a shake of his head)
"Huh? 'finally'? What do mean?"
"Well, the short answer, Bob, is that some ten years ago I asked the Lord into my life to 'fix' a couple of broken things, including some selfish traits. It seems that he has been putting in overtime in growing my interest in the people around me, and I know He must be pleased that some of it is beginning to produce results! (Chuckle) So, I appreciate your feedback, honestly. And maybe, when things settle down in your situation, we can do lunch and I'll give your the 'slightly longer version' of the story--its been a source of encouragement to me, through my share of challenges.
And what's the latest on your brother...
B. Situations of personal accountability --
"I know my Lord would be somewhat disappointed in my choice if I decided to compromise my ethics/standards/goals by YYY..."
C. Situations of past culpability --
"My Lord has poured a lot of 'remedial work' into my life in the past about that issue [said with a chuckle], and I am thankful for improvements in that area..."
D. When you lose it:
"Vince, sorry about the blow-up yesterday. I didn't manage my frustration too well, I know. I disappointed myself, my rather patient Lord, and probably your team at the meeting. I wanted to offer a friendly apology--for both that time and the next time! (said with a chuckle-smile)"
E. Let them see you struggle:
"I wish I could say that I didn't have a problem in this area, but I would be lying...but my Lord knows that I struggle with this, and He has been patient with me, and has provided some helpful input through some insightful people, actually, as I try to grow beyond this..."
F. To someone without any Christian background:
"You know, your lack of background may actually make it easier for you to see Jesus and the issues more clearly...with less preconceptions..."
G. To a lapsed-Christian:
"You know, this period away from the Lord may actually end up being a very important part of your experience for RE-BUILDING a better and more substantial relationship with Him...it has happened to many, many people...and honestly, most of us experience occasional periods of distance even in a very healthy relationship--it is a personal relationship after all" (with a smile)
H. In a friendship setting:
'What event or decision of your life would you say has been most meaningful (not pleasurable)? Why?"
'What event in your life would you say has changed your thinking most about values and God? Why?"
I. Their crisis (personal strength approach):
"Jennifer, what's the latest on your Dad's accident?
"Well, they moved him from intensive care to a regular room last night, and the family flew in this morning. We've got another specialist involved and the really important lab work results should be in by the weekend. Jim is taking kid duty, and I am staying at the hospital with Dad as much as I can. Thanks for asking, Susan.
"Wow, friend, that's a lot to deal with...how are YOU handling all this inside?...where are you finding the strength to manage that situation and your work here?...
J. Their crisis (prayer request approach):
"Jennifer, what's the latest on your Dad's accident?
"Well, they moved him from intensive care to a regular room last night, and the family flew in this morning. We've got another specialist involved and the really important lab results should be in by the weekend. Jim is taking kid duty, and I am staying at the hospital with Dad as much as I can. Thanks for asking, Susan.
"Wow, friend, that's a lot to deal with...Jennifer, would you object if I had our weeknight/class bible study pray for your dad, the doctors, your family and you--without me mentioning any names, of course?'
K. Their crisis (past prayer approach):
"Andy, I wanted to ask how Susie was doing since the incident last week?
"What? Oh, she's doing better. The tension has died down a bit, and all the players are more calm. It doesn't look like there are going to be any legal repercussions.
"Thanks...I was just wondering...I overheard you telling Sam about it last week, and my husband/roommate and I have been praying about the situation at supper since then...glad to hear that the situation is improving."
L. Their felt needs (e.g., anxiety, discouragement, disillusionment, alienation):
"Martha, you look really discouraged! What's going on, friend?
"Nothing much I guess, and I suppose that's the problem. I try as hard as I can at X, but....
"I know that feeling well--'been there, done that' many, many times. I always got through them, of course, like most people, but I only learned later that I didn't have to trudge through those times alone--that there were resources in the spiritual aspect of my life that I could draw on. My Lord was apparently interested in my emotional health as well as the other aspects of my life. But that's another story, for another time--maybe over lunch someday. But back to your situation--have you got any ideas on how to change the pattern any?
M. YOUR crisis:
"Larry, you seem kind of down today...is anything wrong?
"Yeah...we just found out that my little sister has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and so its obviously a pretty tough time for us--we are really, really close. I've been through tough ones before, of course, John, and my Lord has always given me the perspective and strength inside to make it through without bitterness or permanent cynicism, so I know I can count on Him again...but it never gets much easier--its always a time for deep reflection on life and death and the 'why' and the things that matter and the things that don't, if you know what I mean...And thanks for asking, John--I appreciate your interest and concern...
N. YOUR 'big decision':
"Laura, you sure have seemed 'lost in thought' all day...what kind of puzzle are you working on?"
"Ha! You're probably right, pal, I bet I have seemed a little spaced-out today. I've got a pretty big decision that I have to make next week, and it keeps popping up in my mind. It's not a simple decision, so I'm having to consider the impact that it might have on all the important relationships I have commitments to: my kids, my parents, my job, and my Lord...So, I guess I have been a bit 'distracted' off and on today...but it'll all be over soon (smile)--one way or the other..."