When it comes to sharing the gospel, there might not be a more difficult demographic than our own families. Because we love our families so much, we're filled with a strong desire to see them discover the life-changing power of the gospel—but that closeness comes with unique obstacles. There can be a lot of landmines in sharing the gospel with our families.
No one is more familiar with our foibles than our loved ones. And this can make it difficult for them to recognize the impact Jesus is having on us. Sometimes they're so close to us that it's difficult for them to see the transformation as it occurs.
Here are five tips to increase your influence and take better advantage of opportunities.
1. Pray specific prayers for specific family members
Obviously, prayer is important. But we need to do more than pray blanket prayers for our family. If you want to reach your sister with Christ's message, pray for her specifically. Here are some specific things you can pray regularly:
- Ask God to soften her heart.
- Ask God to increase your influence in her life.
- Request opportunities to display God's love for her.
- Pray that you become aware of ideal occasions for sharing the gospel.
2. Let them see the change in you
Since you become a Christian, you're on display. People are looking to see changes in you, and your family is no different. This is challenging because your family is more likely than most people in your life to see you falter and stumble.
Don't worry—you don't have to be perfect. Just focus on letting them see a couple of key developments:
- A change in your priorities
- A growing capacity to love
Growth in these two areas will have a dramatic impact on how they see your faith.
3. Don't lead by demanding change
Not only is your family hyper-aware of your faults, but you're also aware of theirs. There's a real temptation to make judgments about their choices, priorities, and lifestyle. In fact, you might be able to make the argument that it’s the loving thing to do. Be careful.
One of the quickest ways to lose influence with your family is to point fingers or come across as better than them. They're going to be looking for that kind of an attitude. And when they recognize it, they'll use it as a reason to dismiss your message.
4. Serve your family (even when they don't deserve it)
"Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, 'Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all'" (Mark 9:35, New International Version).
Jesus impressed upon us the importance of service, but it's not as easy as it sounds. True service happens when we're not looking for gratitude and reciprocation. Sometimes the people closest to us have a hard time appreciating what we do for them, but we can’t let that deter us.
Over time, consistent acts of kindness, love, and service confirm the change happening in us and increase the impact we have on others. But we need to be careful. While we can increase our influence by serving others, that can't be our primary motivation. We don't serve so we can manipulate—we serve because we are following our Savior's example.
5. Share the gospel—clearly
It’s a lot more fruitful to have one good, lengthy discussion about your faith than it is to constantly pepper every conversation with little comments about Jesus. Loved ones will start avoiding the conversation with you. And little remarks and asides probably won't give them a clear understanding of who Jesus is and what He's done for them.
Choose your moments carefully. Look for opportunities when you won't be disturbed and they seem most receptive to hearing about your faith. Remember: If they feel put on the spot or over scrutinized, they're going to be considerably less open to a discussion about the gospel. So, think twice about doing it in public or when you feel you have a captive audience like at a wedding or family gathering.
Occasions for meaningful dialogue won't always come at the most opportune moments, so you'll need to stay vigilant and be prepared!
A tough, but meaningful, assignment
When it comes to sharing the gospel with your siblings or the people who changed your diapers, it can be a challenge. But introducing family members to Jesus can also be a wonderful and rewarding experience. Don't rush yourself. A little prayerfulness, thoughtfulness, and strategy will go a long way.