International (JFP) — The idea of sharing your faith with family can seem daunting. They’re the people you have the closest relationship with and the ones you ache to discover God’s goodness. But they can also be the last people you want to share your faith with because it can create a lot of tension.
As long as you avoid a few simple pitfalls, you can share your faith without worrying about creating too much stress and anxiety. Here are five mistakes you should steer clear of when witnessing to your family.
1. Allowing them to push your buttons
For better or worse, no one knows you better than your family—and no one knows how to get a rise out of you as easily. Sometimes families have a playful dynamic where people push each other’s buttons intentionally. And sometimes, certain people will try to get under your skin intentionally just to test you or antagonize you.
It can be difficult for the gospel message to land if it dissolves into bickering or hurt feelings. So it’s essential to keep a close watch on your temper. If you find yourself getting defensive or angry, pull back. Take a break and cool off.
When you can demonstrate a peaceful, reserved demeanor in these discussions, it will have a significant impact.
2. Believing they won’t change
Nobody knows you better than your family, and vice versa. That’s one of the great things about our family relationships, and one of the most difficult. It’s easy to develop a profile for each member and then lock it down. And no matter what they do, you forever see them the same way.
A lot of adults talk about experiencing this with their parents. They might be in their late thirties, but their mother or father still sees them as the person they were when they were 16 years old.
We’re all changing, growing, and adapting. Resist the urge to assume that your loved ones will respond a certain way based on experience, especially based on experience from years ago.
3. Speaking too much
When the opportunity presents itself, there’s always a temptation to charge in and dump all the information you have. Sometimes with family members, it’s much more fruitful to guide them to the truth than to lay it all out there and expect an immediate response. In this case, it’s often better to leave them with something to chew on than it is to try and definitively answer all their questions.
We spend a lot of time worrying about what we’re going to say. But the truth is that sometimes it’s just as important to know when to stop talking.
4. Worrying about a lack of response
Fretting over a lack of response is a potential mistake that we should keep in mind when sharing with anyone. They might not really have an initial response, or it could even be negative. But that doesn’t mean a whole lot. Sometimes the Holy Spirit needs to take your words and put them to work. It might be weeks before they’re ready to ask follow-up questions.
Because we’re so close to family members, we feel more comfortable pressing them to respond. The truth is that they might need more time to work through what you’ve talked about and to get over their initial skepticism.
5. Neglecting prayer
It doesn’t matter how impossible your family situation feels or how far from God your loved ones seem; God can do amazing things when we invite Him in. Your faithful prayers can impact your family for generations to come.
Pray for God to soften the hearts of loved ones, and pray for powerful opportunities to share the gospel with them. He’s not unenthusiastic about answering your prayers. He wants your family to know Him more than you do! So develop a discipline of praying for your loved ones, and you’ll be surprised at what happens.
You don’t have to be nervous
Loving your family into the kingdom doesn’t have to be nerve-racking. If you genuinely want the best for them, they’re going to see and appreciate it. Be prayerful, strategic, and intentional, and the Lord will take care of the rest.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out How to Get Better Equipped to Share Your Faith.
Header image and article text courtesy of Jesus Film Project.