You might not have thought about it this way, but have you ever considered that you are a witness to your life and the lives of others? The people around us impact our lives every day, but how often do we acknowledge that impact?
With children, we often look to acknowledge their good behaviors in the hopes that by sharing your observations with them they will continue that behavior. But as adults, we don’t tend to continue that practice.
One of my responsibilities in my congregation is to head up our digital ministries. Amongst duties like sending out email reminders for events, meetings, and volunteers. I send out a “Sunday Morning Recap” email that includes the recordings of our children’s message and the sermon. But my favorite part features my personal reflection and summary of the sermon from that week.
Recently I have been suffering a bit of a crisis of faith. Specifically about my calling and the amount of effort I have been putting into the church. Maybe you can relate. Do you have a team or organization that you are completely committed to, one that you see the potential in and you want to do everything in your power to see that organization grow? But then after months (or even years) of trying to introduce new ideas and not getting any support for those initiatives, have you started to feel lost and wonder why you are committed to this in the first place?
If you have been there than you know where I was.
Because my heart was not in the right place, I stopped sending emails. I was confident that I would sound bitter and not be the source of encouragement I wanted it to be. And I figured if I stopped no one would probably care anyway.
But then I received the most amazing message from the most unlikely of sources. It said:
“Just wanted to thank you for all of the information that you provide for our church. You are doing an outstanding job keeping us up to date. I especially like the recap of the Sunday sermon. Thank you!”Congregation Member
That one note had a huge impact on me. It helped me see that even if these emails only reach a few people we are still reaching them, and that community was an amazing one to be a part of.
What does it mean to be a witness?
If you have ever heard the great commission from the gospel of Luke, it’s a little different than what we are used to hearing from Matthew. In his final speech, Jesus tells the disciples “You are witnesses of these things.”
What does it mean to be a witness? Dictionary.com defines the word as:
Noun: an individual who, being present, personally sees or perceives a thing; a beholder, spectator or eyewitness.
Verb: to see, hear, or know by personal presence and perception.
In simple terms, it means to have experienced something. But we are told that just experiencing it isn’t enough. Jesus then calls us to take that witness one step further in the great commission.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.Matthew 28:19-20A
You see we are called not only to witness the event but to share that witness with the world.
How do I start witnessing?
The story that I shared is a witness account of the kindness and love that is in my congregation. And I didn’t just share it with you, I shared it with my husband, a few friends, and my entire congregation as well. Sharing this story with you was easy and for me is a sign of God’s love at work in my life.
First, be a witness to your own life
When was the last time you paused to consider what God is doing in your life?
One of my favorite times at night is after my one-year-old son has had his bath and its time to settle down for bed. He is my cuddler and will cuddle in with me to have his last bottle before he drifts off to sleep and its in this quiet time that I like to reflect on three questions:
- What was the best thing that happened today?
- Did anything unexpected thing happen today?
- Would you have done anything differently?
Some days are much harder than others to come up with responses but in answering those questions I find the daily blessings in my life. I would encourage you to give this a try. If you journal, journal your responses to help you keep a record.
Being a witness means that we need to do more than just acknowledge these acts. We also need to share them with others. Find ways to share your successes and lessons learned with those around you and in that way you will be a witness in your own life.
I get it what I just asked you to do might feel uncomfortable, but keep in mind you are sharing a story not trying to convert people or convince them to attend your church. In fact, I’m not even saying you have to come out and tell people that you believe that the event is related to God at all. I’m just asking you to share your story, share your life with someone else and let them decide if its God at work in your life. And if they ask, what a great way to open that door.
Next, be a witness to other peoples lives
Jesus wanted the disciples (and us) to bear witness to not only his acts but to the acts of others. By bearing witness to each other’s lives we can show people that they have not gone unnoticed, that they are important and that someone cares.
I know that it isn’t always easy to bear witness. Sometimes we feel like others might not want to hear what we have to say, or maybe we aren’t sure of exactly what we have witnessed. Try these tips:
- Start Small – share a small story with just one person. Maybe it’s the impact a song had on you or something you read that seemed to come up at just the right time. You don’t need to preach to a room full of people, just share one moment with one person and see where that leads.
- Encourage each other – whether we know it or not, we all have something we want to share with the world, but sometimes we might just need a little encouragement. Ask each other about it and listen to the answers people give. When you truly listen, people will open up to you.
- Don’t get discouraged – when you find the courage to share your story the person you share it with might not react the way you want. Or after trying to help someone else open up they just might not engage. Don’t let minor setbacks stop you from bearing witness. Even if people don’t react the way you had hoped you might still have planted a seed that will grow over time.
What is the impact you could have?
Needless to say, that one text message, sent to me at just the right time helped me to get over my fears and started writing those emails again. I may not be making the impact that I hoped to, but I know I’m not talking into the void.
So I encourage you to be a witness in the world today, not only of the amazing acts that Jesus has performed in your life but to the amazing lives of the people around you. You never know what the end result will be.