In March, I spoke at Union University. My first day there, I sat surrounded by RA’s and other Resident Life Staff when one asked a question. She said
How is she supposed to share this part of her testimony? How much should she share? If she leaves information out, is she lying?
The next day, I had one-on-one meetings with women all day. One of them asked a very similar question:
How much is OK to share? Do I have to tell them everything?
Instead of sitting here and listing off the guidelines I follow when sharing my own testimony, I decided to go with a different approach. Here are eight mistakes we can make when we share our testimonies.
1. I’m number 1! I’m number 1!
Let’s be clear on something. The point of sharing your testimony is not to hear yourself speak or to impress people with yourself. The point of sharing God’s working in your life is to bring glory to Him. If He is an afterthought or an ended statement, you need to rework your priorities.
It is so easy to go TMI when talking about a lust addiction. No one needs to hear the grimy, slimy details of your addiction. People don’t need to know what type of porn you watched. You don’t need to describe the videos. You don’t need to provide specifics of how often you masturbated or where. Some things are just not necessary. A good guideline: if it is not necessary to support your main point, don’t use it.
Withholding is not lying; it is discretion. Always know your audience and what is appropriate for them. How I share my testimony with a group of women I know struggle will be different than how I share it with a group of Christian leaders, some of which are male.
3. Giving glory to Satan.
Now, none of us would stand up and say, “Satan is just great!” But when we fail to give glory to God, that is exactly what we are doing. When we glorify our sin, and spend more time talking about it than we do the working of God’s grace, we are glorifying sin.
4. You just don’t stop talking.
Less is more. No one likes rambling. Monologuing just isn’t that exciting for those stuck listening to it. If people don’t see a point or a light at the end of the tunnel, they will start to zone out. You will become that college calculus professor putting them to sleep. Your testimony is not meant to be a sermon, or a one-hour presentation. People shouldn’t feel trapped by asking you to share how God has worked in your life. Keep it short, sweet, and simple. If they want to know more, they will ask.
5. You think you’re the Holy Spirit
Sharing your testimony is one thing. Telling someone else how to apply your life to her life is different. By all means, share the truth, but don’t force people to respond or to apply what you’ve shared. God will take care of it. Don’t ever assume someone knows exactly what you have been through or needs to hear precisely what you are sharing. Always envision yourself as a seed planter, a gardener, spreading seed across the ground. It will take root where it takes root; you cannot make it grow.
6. You don’t share the Word.
Yes, I know it is your experience, and all of your feelings and opinions are great, but back them up with truth. God promises that His word will accomplish what it was supposed to. He says nothing about your word accomplishing anything. Use your story as an opportunity to share His truth.
7. You don’t pray first.
Maybe you’ve been asked to share your testimony at church or find an opportunity to share it with a stranger in a park. Wherever you are, be instant in prayer. God knows what needs to be shared. He knows what is important and you need Him. Yes, it is your story, but it is also His story. When you approach an opportunity to minister without first asking Him for the words to share, you will find your ministry falling flat.
8. You don’t finish.
This one is a personal pet peeve. Your story does not end the day you surrender to or come to know Christ. Why do you stop telling it there? Share what God has been doing in your life since! Share some hope, some grace! It’s fine to acknowledge where you have been, but the whole thing about grace is rescuing you from that and restoring you to something else. If you leave out that second part, you’ve left out everything that matters!
Whenever you are sharing your story, consider the audience, and the context. If it is for a presentation, it may be helpful to practice. Pray over each part, and if there is part that doesn’t seem to fit, see if the point still gets across without it. Remember, people will always have an opportunity to ask you questions, so don’t feel you have to tell them everything.
Above all, listen to the Holy Spirit. Keep your heart open to His guiding. He has been known to make last-minute script changes. When He does that to you, listen. it is His story before it is yours.