Before I became a believer in Jesus in 1987, I was interested in only one person’s business—my own. Can you relate? In fact, I was the director, producer, and lead actor in the little story of me. I, Me, Mine—yes, life was all about me.
When God took hold of my life, I became a new creation in the Messiah. God gave me a completely new outlook on life: new motives, new perspective, and new purpose.
Interestingly, He also gave me new business to attend—His. What a thought. You know, as human beings our default mode in life is to look out for No. 1. Yet, when Jesus becomes our Lord and Savior, He becomes our No. 1 and His business should come first.
The story that preceded my salvation, “The Big Story of Me” – began a new chapter. He began writing this next chapter of my life. Now, instead of me being the writer, director, producer, and lead actor, the Lord is now running the show.
My new calling in life as a Christian is to play a bit role in the Big Story of God. In this new role I am to be first and foremost about the business of my Heavenly Father.
In my years as a college tennis coach, we had many players come through our program. And when they arrived on campus, every one had to make a change. Now they would be playing tennis for something so much bigger than themselves—they were now playing on a team. When they stepped on that court, they were representatives of East Tennessee State University. They represented the school, their teammates, coaches, and themselves. Ultimately when they competed they represented the school. Whether they won or lost a tennis match, the win or loss was credited to the team. And so, players had a responsibility to be about not only the business of playing and trying to win their match, but they also had a responsibility to represent the university, and represent it well in victory or defeat.
When we become believers we become a part of the church. As ambassadors of Christ, we represent our King. The change we make is that we no longer live for us, but for Him. So our lives are now lived for something way bigger than ourselves and represent the King.
Our testimony is the communication of how our story intersects with God’s story. In other words, we’re talking about our life narrative. It’s important to understand our story and be able to articulate it to others as those doors of opportunity open.
One of the universal commonalities we human beings share is that we all have a story.
“So, what’s your story?” I know, I know, that’s a direct question and rather deep and comprehensive. If someone were to ask you that question, what would you say? Certainly the context of the conversation would dictate your response.
In the context of our Christian witness, sharing our testimony is an important part of being about our Father’s business. For it is good to share about His love and grace extended to us. For the Bible tells us to:
“always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that is within you” (1 Peter 3:15).
Our testimony is how our story intersects with God’s story. And a testimony is a powerful tool in the Master’s hand as we communicate His love and grace to others. So it’s important to understand and organize your story so you can appropriately articulate it or parts of it in conversation with others. Therefore, preparation is critical.
Preparing Your Testimony
In athletics, one of the keys to confidence is preparation. Before entering the court for a tennis match, it’s important to be prepared. Practice, practice, practice. Repetition, repetition, and so on. The same can said in the process of sharing one’s testimony.
When we think of the biblical exhortation Peter gives us to always be ready, preparing our testimony is important. Readiness will come when we take time to pray and to write out a three-to-five minute testimony, not necessarily for the purposes of reciting it verbatim, but rather for the purpose of being able to access whatever part or parts of it to share at any particular moment as a conversation unfolds. In the context of conversation, you may share snippets of it and at other times there may be much more time than a few minutes to elaborate about the difference the Lord has made in your life.
In preparing your testimony, here are some basic tips:
- Ask the Lord to give you wisdom and guidance in preparing and presenting your testimony. Always include life before Christ, the turning point – What made you seek? What happened – how you came to believe. And what has Jesus meant in your life since that time.
- Always include the gospel core – We’re sinners separated from God. Jesus died for our sins and rose again, providing forgiveness of sin. We simply need to confess our sins before God, ask Him to forgive us and receive Jesus by trusting in Him.
- Don’t use Christian jargon. Words such as born again, convicted, converted, do not communicate truth to the average non-Christian.
- Don’t give the impression that the Christian life is a “bed of roses.” Be genuine & authentic.
- Making an outline of your testimony is helpful.
- Memorize your testimony. Memorizing your testimony is not so you can spit it out verbatim, but to give you confidence in sharing. As you share it and become more comfortable, you’ll have the ability to flex and share different pieces at different times to different people as you feel inclined. Memorization is simply a tool.
- Practice your testimony with a friend, getting feedback. Also, speaking your testimony aloud will allow you and others to get a better feel for how you’re communicating. Sometimes a verbal expression of a thought or idea sounds much different than when it’s written.
- Pray for opportunities to share your story.
Here’s a simple way to think about content in forming the framework for your testimony. Take some paper and pen or pencil and begin praying through, meditating upon and writing down your story.
There are three components that make up a believer’s testimony:
Formation of God Paradigm (Before Christ): Head Knowledge
This is your formative or growing up years, or the time before you trusted in Christ. What kind of religious tradition, if any, did you grow up with? What was your understanding or belief about God? In my case, growing up in a Reform Temple, a liberal expression of Judaism, I always believed in God on some level and I believed He knew me and that I was special in His eyes. But we learned nothing about Jesus.
Experiencing His Grace (Trusting in Christ): Heart Knowledge
This is a moment or season in your life when faith in Jesus became personal. If you grew up in a Christian family environment, this is when your faith became your faith. It could be a time when you became serious about your faith and now wanted to live it out. As opposed to someone who didn’t believe in Jesus on any level and came to a specific time of trusting in Him for forgiveness and eternal life.
The Consequences of Belief (Following Christ): Life Change
This is a critical piece of our story, for the difference Jesus has made in our life is the difference we want to share. For me, I experience abundant love, joy, and peace that transcend my circumstances, which frankly, at times, are quite painful. As I like to tell people, I follow the truth regardless of the consequences.
Once you put your testimony together, take some time and share it with someone and get their feedback. Practicing with a fellow believer initially will be easier. Their feedback will help you better understand how your testimony may resonate with others.
So, put your testimony to paper, practice your testimony, and pray for opportunities to share your testimony. And remember, always be ready to answer the question, “What’s your story?