Each of us has had these doubts about leading someone to Christ: What if I screw the person up? Or: What if I can’t remember what I’m supposed to say? Sometimes: What if they have questions I can’t answer? Maybe: What if the Devil shows up in physical form and throws tiny pebbles at my face while I’m praying?
Okay, maybe you haven’t had all these doubts. But I bet you’ve had some of them.
Be assured, if there is a person that you’ve shared your personal spiritual story with them you are the best person to go to the next stage and lead them to Christ. (Yes, that was a not-so subtle link in that sentence you should click on if you haven’t yet learned how to share your personal spiritual story. You’ll find simple steps there.)
It is much better for YOU to be the one that leads a friend, co-worker or even a relative to Christ. You might have the instinct to “bring them to the Pastor” or to find some older, wiser person to show them the way. The reality is that no one is better to do this than YOU. You are the one with the relationship. You are the one that will be with them later on if they receive Christ or even if they reject him. So it’s on you now.
But the good news is that it’s not all that hard. You may be afraid because people have made a bigger deal out of this than it really is. Honestly all you have to do is share some of the gospel with them (not all of it, they can read that in, you know, the actual Gospels) and then see if they want in, and if so, ask them to pray with you. That’s it. Seriously that’s a wrap!
Of course, there’s more to faith than something so simple, but most people need a moment where they cross the line of faith and say to themselves and you and God and anyone else who will listen that, “Yes, from here on out I am a follower of Jesus Christ!”
But you might not know where to start. So let me give you a few things you might say below (which is adapted from something my own father developed when I was just a 12 year old kid, and I’ve just updated the language to today and added my own parts in, subtracting others. I haven’t found anything more hopeful, less condemning, and more theologically correct since he outlined this path, so I’m passing it along to you.)
A few tips first…
Okay, so here are four simple steps that help you lead someone to Christ. They are written as you might say them to someone else so imagine yourself saying the words, and adjust them accordingly so you make them your own.
1) You know the kind of person you really want to be.
Deep inside you there is an urge toward goodness. It is a quiet, steady, prompting toward the good, the right, and the just. You have an inner ideal telling you what we really ought to be.
You can probably recall times when this inner ideal was at work, when you were prompted to be honest when stretching the truth might have brought you benefit. You may have felt something urging you to help someone in difficulty. You may have helped them, or maybe you didn’t, but you probably have had that sense of right and wrong.
This is not just because you have a conscience, and not because you are a “basically good” person. This is because you are human.
An inner ideal of what we really want to be is in common to each and every human being around the world, throughout history. It is always there prompting you toward honesty, compassion, justice, kindness, loyalty, devotion, but most of all… to love.
We all know down deep the kind of person we ought to be. Not only do we know this–we desire to actually become like that. It might be our deepest desire.
Have you sensed this inner ideal and desire in yourself?
2) You fall short of what you want to be
Just as a basketball might fall short of the hoop, you have no doubt found that you fall short of what you want to be. Everybody desires it–but no one really lives up to this inner ideal, do they? We know what is right, but we don’t do it.
Instead of forgiving, we hold grudges. We don’t help because we’re in a hurry. We know we shouldn’t stretch the truth, but we do so in order to make ourselves look better, or hide our secrets.
We all do this. And we are all frustrated by it. Many tell us to just forget the inner ideal. They tell us it is our parents or institutions or churches or religion that give us an inner ideal. But I think you know that the idea is truly inner. It is inside of you, not outside of you.
Have you ever felt that you had fallen short of your inner ideal?
3) You can become the person you really want to be.
There is good news, however. Really good news: You actually can become the kind of person you really want to be. You really can!
It’s not magic, nor is it easy or quick. But it is possible to become like that ideal person imprinted on your heart. There are thousands of people just like you who can honestly say that they are actually becoming the very persons they really want to be. How? How can you become what you really want to be?
First of all, you won’t do it by trying harder.
We do not have the power in ourselves to become all we were meant to be. Discipline, willpower, and grit will help you change many things in your life, but self-improvement isn’t enough to raise you to your full potential. Eventually you hit a ceiling on your change and you can’t break through. I bet you’ve already sensed this.
The truth is that only God can actually change us into the persons we really want to be.
Don’t reject this out of hand. You may have hostile feelings toward God or people who claim to speak for God. Or you may simply be ignoring the whole God issue figuring, “I don’t think there’s anything to it.” Maybe you are angered at the mere mention of His name because of some injustice you have experienced in life or because of some past encounter with someone who claimed to speak for God. Or you may seriously doubt the existence of God, considering all the pain and anguish in the world.
But stick with me a little while longer and give this idea a fair examination in your own thoughts. Let the ideas presented here turn over and over again in your mind. Be open-minded. Then decide for yourself. You can decide whatever you want, but at least give the ideas a fair chance.
God is Spirit. We can’t see or touch God. God’s Spirit prompts all the good things we humans do for each other. God’s Spirit brings what unity, love, peace, joy, and hope that we humans experience. God is constantly at work among us bringing out the best in us. In fact, God has designed you with your desire for good, what we earlier called your “inner ideal.” You are imprinted with God’s own image. Genesis 1:27 says that “God created human beings in his own image.”
You can already sense what God is really like, and you want to become like this Ideal. When you hunger to rise to your full potential, you are hungering to be more like God. For God is the perfect standard of honesty, compassion, justice, mercy, tenderness, fairness, and most of all… of love. Acts 12:27 describes it this way: “God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”
Of course, I’m not suggesting that all of God’s followers are like God! There are some terribly poor examples in churches. And down through history thousands of people have been killed or tortured in the name of religion. There are religious people who have fallen far short. In fact, Romans 3:23 says it this way: “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” In the end, we’re not speaking of following a religion. We are talking about a relationship–a personal relationship with God’s invisible Spirit.
His Spirit has been with you all along. He has been prompting this inner urge to do right. The good news is, there is power to change you into the person you really want to be.
God didn’t leave us with simply an urge to live right. He has provided a way to actually become what we really want to be. This power is from God. It is God. You can receive this power to change through a personal relationship with God. You don’t have to keep trying to change yourself, which is futile. Instead, God’s Spirit comes into your life and releases new power for you to actually become the person you really want to be. 2 Corinthians 5:17 talks about this change saying “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
4) You can begin this new life right now.
The really good news is you can receive this life-changing power from God right now. You can begin the new life of becoming the person you really want to be. You already recognize that you live below God’s ideal planted within you. This is the same ideal the Bible talks about. God’s ideal–the same one stamped down deep inside you–is mentioned all through the Bible.
But the best place to see God’s ideal is neither written on your heart nor in a book. The best illustration of God’s ideal is the human being named Jesus. Many others have been like God in one way or another. But Jesus was God. God has always been trying to get through to human beings… through nature itself, our inner urge toward good, and through the great prophets throughout history. But in Jesus God Himself became human like you and I. Jesus was 100% God and 100% human at the same time, and so Jesus was the only person who ever perfectly lived up to the inner ideal.
The rest of us “fall short” of God’s standard, and our own. The technical term for such falling short of God’s ideal is “sin.” And sin separates us from God and cuts us off from God’s power to change us.
Although Jesus lived up to the fullest potential of God, He was eventually killed. He was crucified Him on a cross. He died and was buried like any other man or woman. But three days later God actually raised Him from the dead, and He appeared to hundreds of people before returning to God the Father. These followers believed in His coming back to life so strongly that they were willing to be put to death rather than deny the facts.
After Jesus returned to the Father, the Spirit came upon the group of followers Jesus, the Son, had left behind. This Spirit, which is the “Spirit of Jesus Christ” is still here today. This Spirit is with you right now. Your inner ideal yearns for the Spirit to come into your life and become an ally in changing you into the person you really want to be.
But there is only one key distinction here: God’s Spirit isn’t pushy. The Spirit will not force itself into your life. You have to receive the Spirit personally. It is a decision only you can make. God imprints the hearts of all men and women in the world with an inner ideal the desire to be like Jesus, but you must personally invite God’s Spirit into your life to make it possible. When that Spirit energizes your life, you will start becoming all you were meant to be.
Is there any good reason why you wouldn’t like to begin that new relationship with God right now?
To receive the Spirit of God and start this new life you need simply to pray, which is really just a shorthand way to say “talking to God.” This conversation is not to some distant God far off in space. It is talking to the invisible Spirit of Christ which has been around you all the time. Simply pray something like this:
If you prayed this prayer, and really meant it, the invisible presence of Christ is now in your life. You may not feel any different, or sense anything unusual right away. But just as sure as you are you, God’s Spirit is now living inside you.
Did you pray this prayer to God?
Did you mean it?
If you did, God’s Spirit has come into your life right now and you have already began a new relationship with God.
So, now what? Start becoming the person you really want to be.
*The four steps above are adapted and adjusted from the 1986 version of “You Can Become the Person You Really Want to Be” by Keith Drury posted at DruryWriting.com/Keith