October 18, 2005

Overcoming Poor Training

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.


Everyone who competes ... goes into strict training. 1 Corinthians 9:25

One factor that can hold us back from sharing our faith is a feeling of incompetence or inadequacy. We want to witness for Christ, but we do not know what to say or how to say it. The problem may be that we have not been taught how.

When I was young, I was never taught how to share my faith on a personal level with someone who did not know Jesus. The only time I talked about my faith was within comfortable circles with other believers.

Some years later, when I went on a summer ministry assignment, I was mentored in this process. Then, after a few training sessions, the pastor sent me out into the community. The first time I struck up a spiritual conversation with an unbeliever, I was scared half to death. But gradually I grew in confidence and competence.

We must not use poor training as an excuse for ineffectiveness. In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul speaks about athletes undergoing strict training, and he makes clear that training is just as important for running the race of faith.

Thankfully there are many wonderful tools available today that can help us sharpen our witnessing skills. Talk to your pastor. Sign up for a course. Study the matter in your small group. Practice talking with friends and acquaintances about God's amazing love for you.

Don't let poor training be a barrier for you.

Father, help us develop skills and gain confidence as your witnesses. And please bring people into our lives who need to hear about you, we pray. In Jesus' name, Amen.

About the author — Dan Jongsma

Daniel Jongsma serves as an interim pastor in Fulton, Illinois. He has pastored congregations in Elmhurst and Fulton, Illinois; in Dearborn, Michigan; and in Nashville, Tennessee. Dan also served as a church planter in the Chicago area. He and his wife, Gloria, have three daughters and four grandchildren.

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