Experience Plus Talent Beats Talent
It seems like there has not been a Super Bowl in the last 20 years without Tom Brady and the Patriots. Like them or hate them, the team seems to play for the championship every year no matter what else is going on in the world. In the most recent example, Tom Brady faced off against a quarterback who was 7 years old when Brady won his first Super Bowl. This was Brady’s 9th big game compared to the first for Jared Goff of the Rams. Brady has run thousands of more plays in all situations over the years compared to Goff. The Super Bowl and playoff stage are familiar to him after making it far into the playoffs every year. Goff is just starting out in his career and is doing all the hoopla for the first time. This is a huge disparity in experience between the two and it showed during the actual game. Tom Brady actually made big mistakes to start the game. He was unfazed by them and calmly carried on. He had been in the same situations many times before and learned from them. In contrast, Goff was shaky from the beginning and never really got comfortable. He did not have a terrible game, but the unfamiliar stage had an effect. In a matchup of two enormously talented football players, years of experience were invaluable in getting the job of winning the game done. Brady has seen everything in his time. He put the set backs aside and focused on winning. Just going out and playing the prior games, winning or losing, game him an advantage for each later game.
Go Therefore and Make Disciples
The same principle applies to witnessing as Christians. Sharing the Gospel is our calling as disciples of Jesus. We can debate whether we are called to be missionaries or football players, but each of us received a direct order from our King with the Great Commission. For more on this read Can I Get a Witness? We are directed to go forth and make disciples, right? Paul lays the issue out so clearly in Romans. How are people going to know about the salvation offered to them unless we tell them?
The issue for many of us is this “going” seems terrifying. Witnessing can be nerve-wracking for us if we are naturally introverted, shy or we feel awkward talking with people about our faith. The fact the Gospel is their only escape from eternal damnation does not make it any less scary. Their eternal destiny on the line makes our testimony a big deal. Our culture greatly discourages sharing our faith as well. Religion is one of the big things we are not supposed to talk about in polite company. In order to effectively follow the orders of Jesus, we must swim against some very strong currents in our life.
So though we have a heartfelt desire to reach people for Jesus, fear of failure and unfamiliarity stop us from following the Lord’s direct order. What do we do with this? How do we go from terrified to the fearless preaching we see from Paul and friends of the early church? It is simple in theory, more difficult in execution. We go out and do it…again and again…failing and succeeding and learning from each encounter. This gets us more ready each time until we are thoroughly comfortable talking Jesus to all listeners. How do we stop being uncomfortable witnessing? By doing it until we are comfortable.
A Case of Nerves
Jared Goff is not a bad football player. He did not have a terrible football game. Getting to the Super Bowl is a huge accomplishment. It was a wonderful experience that very few quarterbacks ever experience. Goff will learn from the good parts and bad. He will be a better quarterback next season. If he gets there again, he will be prepared to not make the same mistakes. He would be a completely different player if he gets to 9 Super Bowls. It is logical that ample experience added to his talent will make him a much better player.
This is true with sharing Jesus. Each time we set out to talk about Jesus we learn and grow. We are not going to be Paul the first time we try to evangelize. I started with sweaty palms and a dry mouth. I felt like I forgot how to speak. Then I felt like I could not stop speaking really fast. I was nervous even though I speak for a living as a lawyer. Hyperventilation strangely does not convey the message of the peace of the Lord.
Most of these feelings were not obvious to the listeners. My fear made it feel like it went much worse than it did. But in witnessing the first time, I did make rookie mistakes. I also did some good things. The next time out I was better. Every time after that I looked at what happened and tried to improve. I also became more comfortable. I was prepared for the things that tripped me up in the early days. The more I did it, the more fear went away. Eventually, I was just a guy trying to help someone know Jesus. It went from desperately trying to spit out the Gospel to taking time and caring about the listener…and trying to get them to Jesus. After the fear subsides, I even started to have fun.
I am far from the Tom Brady of witnessing, but I do heartily enjoy it. The nerves that went along with my early days in the Lord are generally long gone. This change would not have happened if I did not keep trying. The Lord said to go and make disciples, so I kept trying to do so.
Sharing the Gospel of Jesus is not pro football. Thankfully, witnessing is never about how well or poorly we do it. It is not about talent. Every single believer cannot be Jared Goff or Tom Brady on the football field. The abilities they have are extremely rare. We just don’t have the skills. Thank the Lord evangelizing is not about our talent or ability. We all can be experts at bringing others to Jesus. We can do something way more important than football because it is about the Lord working and not us. The Holy Spirit is doing the convicting, drawing and converting, not us.
Are we willing to step out and be obedient in order to let the Lord work through us?