Being an evangelist isn’t a job. It is a calling. But reflecting on why we are eager to share our faith and what is our motivation is important. Chatting with some evangelists last night, I heard what motivates them. It wasn’t what you might expect.
A story of motivation
The other day I was working in my office when my family all at once burst in through my door. I wondered at first what I had done to deserve such a pleasure. Then they told me.
An enormous spider had made an appearance.
Usually one of my sons will deal with such things. But this one was too big.
As such, this motivated my whole family to come and find me: chief of all spider dispatchers. In this arachnid’s case, even I didn’t feel inclined towards a more humane removal. Apologies spider lovers everywhere. It was huge. And moved fast.
That’s my excuse, anyway.
What is motivation?
The definition of motivation is ‘a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way’. (top answer, from a quick google search)
How do you react to things? Do you know why you react to those things in those ways? Do you know why you do what you do?
With spiders, it’s a preservation thing hard-wired in our brains!
Why does it matter to think about motivation?
When we undertake any ministry, it’s important to know why we are doing what we are doing. Not knowing our motivation can lead to doing the wrong thing. At worse, it can end up with being harmful to other people.
For example, what would happen if a sports coach wanted his team to win a particular competition? At all costs? Without a thought to the health and capability of the team, the coach may train them so hard he causes injury. He gets angry. He blames the team. Fewer players on the team because of injury may mean even worse results. He again blames the team and trains them even harder.
A person can hurt another person not only physically, as the above example shows. They can also hurt someone in their mental or spiritual wellbeing.
Let’s be more positive. Think of the coach who wants to see their team win but wants it for the benefit of the members of the team, not his or her own. The coach will make sure that each person is performing the best they can, and as part of the team. There will be pressure, but not too much.
Motivation directs the practice.
Faith sharing eagerness. What motivates an evangelist?
We have recently started an evangelist and faith sharing group. We plan to meet monthly on zoom. It’s a group to reflect on what it means to share our faith, encourage one another, and listen to guest speakers. (Read to the end for further details of how to join in).
Last night in our group discussion, we raised the point that I have highlighted in this post. What motivates us to tell other people about Jesus? Why do we evangelise?
The following list comes from our conversation. Of course, it isn’t every reason that an evangelist might give. I will reflect on these answers in a moment.
- A sense of restlessness to want to tell people about Jesus.
- A sense of feeling the deep desire to say something about faith. Not doing so can leave a feeling of sadness.
- A ‘holy discontent’ with the way things are.
- No idea if you are being ‘good’ at it (evangelism), just knowing that you must be faithful at it
- Not called to be successful, but to be obedient
- Always listen for a nudge of the Holy Spirit about what to say next
- For the evangelist, it’s sometimes harder to know when to keep quiet. But it’s something we need to do.
- A desire to share the good things that God has done for us
- A desire that others should have the opportunity to share in the good things that we receive from God.
Reflection: what is at the heart of an evangelist that motivates them?
It seems emotional. A sense here, a feeling there, a desire even which fuels that faith-sharing talking Jesus eagerness. Jesus tells the story of a woman who loses a coin (1 of 10) and sweeps the house for it (Luke 15:8-10). Reading the passage, you get a sense of the urgency with which she is looking. She doesn’t give up.
A deep desire which means she won’t quit until she has done what she needs to do.
When she finds it, she gets her friends together for a party.
In that culture, the coin was precious. Enough to throw a party for her friends when she finds it. When someone comes to know Jesus, the angels celebrate with the same intensity as the woman who finds her coin.
Being an evangelist is not a job, it’s a desire to join in with God
For an evangelist, telling people about Jesus isn’t a job, though a few may receive the support of other people. Nor is it about making themselves feel useful or successful.
For an evangelist, and anyone else sharing faith, the important thing is the deep desire to join in with God. God is always at work, restoring creation to himself. That work of salvation through the cross isn’t us, it is God. God could do it all himself, but he has us join in!
God does the saving, but we are the story bearers. How can people who don’t know God call on him if they have not heard? (Romans 10:14). An evangelist has a motivation to seek out the lost in the same way as the woman who swept her house.
And certainly, not every evangelist looks the same!
I will finish with this thought:
What motivates you in your ministry?
Why not join us in our group as we consider what motivates us to share our faith? You are welcome whether you see yourself as an evangelist or a keen faith sharer. Let us encourage one another. For those who want to develop their gift as a witness and person of peace in their community, contact here.