I sat in the back of the seminar, my heart touched by the thoughtful approach of the presenter. I thought of all the contacts I had had over the years. If only I had known earlier how to bring my friends to understand what Christ had done for them! Or to help them make a decision to accept Christ. The presenter's approach seemed to accomplish everything I’d ever wanted to do for God. Somewhat in awe, I studied the handouts that had been prepared for us.
Here was a simple, proven, step-by-step script—yes, every word was planned for me—of how to bring a non-Christian to Christ. It was known to work. The presenter up front had successfully brought many to Jesus--Hindus, Muslims, businessmen, teenagers. He had seen countless decisions and baptisms; he had a powerful, effective ministry that I deeply appreciated. I rocked backed in my chair and studied the ceiling, amazed that it could be so clear.
Encouraged to turn over a new leaf in my witnessing, I read the material over and over. I fixed the key points in my mind. They weren’t complicated; I thought I could do it. Eagerly I watched for a chance to share.
But it didn’t happen very easily. The points didn’t fit well. People didn’t respond to me like I thought they would. I checked the script; I tried to learn it better. It simply didn’t happen the same for me as it had for him.
Maybe that’s why, as I was reading through Samuel’s account, my heart went out to David as he awkwardly stepped out of King Saul’s tent in full battle armor. The glistening plates floated over his thin shoulders. The long sword nearly tripped him. He stopped and turned back. Was he having second thoughts about Goliath? As he stumbled back to Saul’s dressing room, he jerked off the bronze helmet, dropped the coat of armor and declared, “I can’t go in these. I am not used to them.” (I Samuel 17:38)
The facts are, Saul had gone into many successful battles in that armor. He had faithful soldiers who had met countless skirmishes on behalf of Israel in the same full regalia. As they were protecting God’s people they'd been thankful for similar protection. Nothing really wrong with the armor; it was wise soldiering. But David knew he functioned better with the simple tools he had on hand and with what he had experienced with God. That day it was a sling. A few pebbles. And a plea to God. It wasn’t the armor—or non-armor—that would make David successful.
The real success of his “method” was his faithfulness as a shepherd, the experiences God had already given him, and his conviction that God would continue to display His power—this time to the unbelieving audience of the Philistines.
Fact is, as a seasoned warrior years later, David would wear armor every bit as heavy and protective. But that day—no day—could her eevwear someone else’s armor. Not even the king’s.
I came across the rumpled handouts from my friend’s presentation weeks later. They were still inspiring. I could still see how God has used him—and blessed his efforts. But I realized that my “armor” is different. My gifts are different. I have had different experiences with God. I have seen God use me in other ways. And I trust God to “suit” me for the specific people and situations He will bring me.
Believe me: It’s important for us to share the methods we’ve discovered as useful. And it’s important for us to hear of approaches God has used in others’ lives. But I am satisfied that whether it’s my friend, myself, or you—a tentmaker with your own knowledge of God and His ability to use you—the best witnessing “armor” we each have is the power of God in our lives, and the conviction and faithfulness we show in letting Him work through us.
Because what makes anything we do effective is the power of the Spirit in our lives and our faithfulness to take hold of whatever God has provided us that will accompish something for Him. In the end, it's not the method God empowers. It's the people. BM