I have a long way to go in the area of personal evangelism, but these three habits have helped me to make it a growing priority in my life. My prayer is that these practices will help you to do the same.
1. Ask for “Jesus eyes” consistently.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36
Jesus saw people differently. He looked beyond the facade of smiling faces into the abyss beneath. He saw the swirling cauldron of hopelessness in the center of their souls, a cauldron that had been stirred by the finger of the Devil. As a result of his divine insight, his heart broke for the lost. They were like sheep without a shepherd, harassed by the demonic wolves circling them and helpless to their attacks.
What if every morning we asked God to give us the eyes of Jesus? What if we stopped to think about the hurts and scars in people’s lives and dared to allow ourselves to feel their pain? That’s exactly what the word “compassion” means. It means “to suffer with.” It is this empathy that gives us the impetus to open our lives to serve others (like Jesus modeled) and open our mouths to share the good news with others (like Jesus did.)
May we consistently pray to have the eyes of Jesus. As a result, may our hearts break for those who don’t yet know him.
2. Increase the evangelism word count.
What we talk about, we prioritize, and what we prioritize, we talk about. This is true of evangelism as well as sports.
For eight years of my life, I roofed with a group of guys who were huge fans of the Denver Broncos. I was a fan but not a “super fan” like my fellow construction workers. But a strange thing happened over the course of my roofing experience…I became a super fan. Why? Because we talked about the Broncos all the time! As a result of verbally reviewing and reliving the game over shingles on Mondays (or sometimes on Tuesdays), I became a die-hard Denver Broncos fan and still am one today (Go Tebow!)
What’s true in sports is true of evangelism. The more you talk about it the more you prioritize it. The more you swap stories about evangelism with your small group, youth group, Sunday school, or friends, the more important it becomes to you (Go Jesus!)
3. Go for it!
You get a heart for evangelism by getting a start in evangelism. The more you engage others with the good news, the more desperately you realize the need of those without the hope of Jesus.
Want to get a heart for cancer patients? Work with them! Want to get a heart for AIDs patients? Serve them! Whether it be orphans, widows, prisoners, or the poor, the best way to get a heart for someone is by engaging them personally.
The same is true of evangelism. When you go for it and relationally engage the lost with the hope of Jesus Christ, you can’t help but love them. The more you seek to persuade them, the more your heart breaks for them.
Just a few days ago, I saw two Mormon missionaries at a yogurt shop. I walked up to them and began to engage. My heart broke for these two very sincere young men. I began to imagine the pain that must be sizzling under their well-ironed shirts as they sought to earn their way into God’s graces through missionary work. I began to feel for them as I realized the pressure they must feel from family and friends to stay true to “the church” and to their convictions even when the original Testament of Jesus Christ (a.k.a. “The Bible”) seemed to contradict their man-made religious system at every turn. My heart broke for these two younger “elders.”
After a few minutes of admiring, asking, and admitting, I shared the gospel with them. They politely listened, shared a few thoughts, and said goodbye.
Those two young men are still on my heart. Although I don’t really know them, I love them, and I want them to know the hope of Jesus Christ.
God is making evangelism a growing priority in my life. He can do the same for you if you are willing to apply these three habits.