Today’s readings emphasize the essence of Advent as a period of “preparing the way of the Lord.” We often think about this in terms of our own hearts, yet the prophets Elijah and John the Baptist did even more as they called others to deeper conversion. Evangelization is hard. We want to reach out to others but are afraid of being labeled as “judgy” or a “shamer.”
Being a disciple doesn’t mean telling others how to live their lives. Rather, discipleship means walking with others on a shared journey to Heaven, i.e. preparing the way. Real friends love each other enough to speak truth. For example, if you saw a group of blind people about to walk off a cliff, you wouldn’t hesitate to shout a warning. It wouldn’t be because you thought you were better than them, but because you had a heart!
So how do we do this? Here are some tips to get you started:
- Words are important, but actions set the stage. Show your friends your extreme love through service and sacrifice. This way, when you tell them you are speaking out of love, they believe you from experience!
- Know your testimony. “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” (1 Peter 3:15). Personal witness can be one of the strongest forms of evangelization. How has Christ captured, moved and transformed your heart?
- Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. This is the real secret weapon to all difficult dialogue in life. Only God knows when someone is in the mode to receive your message. If your friend is hangry, having a bad day or over-tired, they might not respond well. On the other hand, in different circumstances, you could say the exact same thing and have very different results. If grace is flowing and the Spirit is moving, big things can happen. Don’t force conversations. Pray hard and often that the Holy Spirit will open doors for tough discussions and then tell you when the doors are open. When this happens: game on. He will give you the words if you let Him.
- Have an unwavering disposition of love. Your friend may defend their actions or feel judged. Be sure every word that flows out of your mouth points to compassion.
- If you find yourself stumped, it’s ok to say, “I’m not sure, but I will find the answer for you.” You don’t know everything, and that’s ok! it could even be better to model a constant search for more knowledge of the Lord.
The Lord chose you for your friends, not as a critic, but as a witness. He wants to use you to love them right where they are and also to draw them closer to Him. If you ask Him to help you love them like He does, expect Him to answer.
Katie Hartfiel is an author, speaker and homeschool mom in Houston, Texas. She loves sharing the message that God’s plans are better than our dreams through a desire to live our vocations to the full. For more visit womaninlove.org