For all of my childhood, and a big part of my adult life, I never quite understood the word “testimony”.
But what I did know, was that it sounded scary, and official, and raw, and intimidating. Then when I began to see people share their testimony at church, it seemed tears were always involved, and the mere thought of sharing my own testimony brought not only tears, but paralyzing fears, into my heart.
So I decided to steer clear of it, with a ten foot pole…..that is, until God called me to get real, and share.
Suddenly, the word “testimony” took on a whole new meaning, and I worried and fretted for months, at the thought of public ridicule and shame.
I prayed and asked God to take that thorn away from me, because I did not understand His purpose or His reasoning. Why would we want me to share something painful that happened in my life? How could my life be an example of His mighty work?
Why would shedding tears be good? Why would He want me to feel ashamed? Could He really turn my mess, into my message?
It has been a long journey, but I have finally learned what it means when the Bible says God’s ways are not our ways. God was at work in me, and through walking with Him, He has cleansed my heart of the shame that once gripped my soul.
As a result, I have been able to get a glimpse of how God uses our tears for His purpose, and that by being transparent and real with others, God can do His best work.
You see, people may not respond to scripture verses or lectures or Bible beating – but they will respond to human emotion, realness, and a personal connection with someones heart. When we are transparent for God, hearts are opened.
I eventually learned that sharing a testimony does not have to be drudgery, but a blessing. All it really means is faithfully sharing what Christ means to us and what He has done in our life. And friends, He has prepared us for such a time as this.
The definition of testimony is “a solemn declaration or affirmation made for the purpose of establishing or proving some fact.”
Our calling as Christians is not to feel obligated or pressured or shamed into sharing Christ, but to be so passionate about our faith, that we long to share Him with others, and prove that He is alive and active in our life.
Today I want to share with you some tips for developing your own testimony. If you have been gripped with fear over sharing your story, of if you have simply never organized it in such a way that it can be easily shared, this is a great tool.
As I have mentioned this week, the more prepared we are to share, the more willing we will be when the time comes. And God will take care of the rest.
FIVE EASY PROMPTS FOR PREPARING YOUR TESTIMONY
A. Before I received Christ, I lived and thought this way:
1. my attitudes were such that…
2. my needs revolved around….
3. my problems were…..
4. I gained happiness from…..
B. Due to all of the things I mentioned above, I was:
1. disappointed because ….
2. unfulfilled because..
3. struggling with my life because….
C. When and how I first heard about Christ:
D. When I received Christ, many things happened to me:
1. my attitude changed in that…
2. the things that were important before, were no longer important, such as…
3. I began to be concerned about new things, like….
E. My life has changed in many ways:
1. I stopped doing things that were bringing me down, such as…
2. I stopped having a negative attitude about….
3. I began to care about….
4. I noticed God working in my life and answering prayers, for example….
Some helpful do’s and dont’s in writing a powerful testimony:
Always begin with an attention-getting sentence or incident.
Be positive, accurate, specific – details arouse interest.
Write in such a way that others can relate to your experiences, include real life experiences.
Use one or two bible verses directly related to your experience, but just paraphrase them rather them quoting references and specific word.
Write things just as you would say them if you were having a conversation.
Have someone else look it over and provide some constructive feedback.
Show that being a Christian is a day to day relationship.
Keep it around 3 to 7 minutes long.
Don’t use Christian jargon, which do not communicate truth to the average non-Christian, and are often misunderstood: saved, convicted, converted, born again, sin, repentance.
Don’t be too wordy, beat around the bush, or emphasize just how bad you used to be. People feel uncomfortable if you dwell on unfortunate personal issues.
Don’t exaggerate how bad your life used to be.
Don’t speak with glitter language: ‘wonderful’, ‘glorious’, ‘outstanding’.
Don’t give the impression that life is a bed of roses since you accepted Christ as your savior.
Don’t preach to people. Make it a testimony, not a “preachimony”.
Don’t assume that the person knows the basic truths of God.
Sweet Jesus, I know You have been working in my life. I know you were always with me, even when I did not feel You, or was not looking for You. I ask you with my whole heart, to give me the strength to face the past, the wisdom to know when You were at work, the transparency to admit my need for You, and the courage to seek Your will in how You want me to use my story to glorify You. As You see fit, and when I am ready, bless me with opportunities to share Your transforming power with someone in need of You. Amen.