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  • Writer's pictureJim Donaher

How to Tell You?

There are times in every life when you see something going wrong for someone, and you just can't determine the best way to tell them.

They're leaving for a big meeting and their clothes are mismatched somehow. Or they get a haircut and they ask you how you like it and you don't. Or they have spinach stuck in their teeth.

Whatever it is, most of us have figured out a tried and true strategy for navigating these situations with only a minimum amount of awkwardness.

Or we ignore it.

Ignoring it is acceptable, more or less, when we either don't know the person well enough to tell them something potentially embarrassing or upsetting. Someone closer to them can tell them. Other times the matter is not important enough to make an issue about.

People have a tendency, and I'm told men do this more than women, to want to 'fix everything.' Whether it's unique to my gender or not, I am guilty of this. When you tell me your problem, I tell you what I think you need to do to solve it. Easy peasy.

Sometimes, for more complex matters, I ask some questions to isolate the root of the problem, then I tell you how to solve it. Slightly less easy peasy, but still in the peasy realm.

But what if you get to the root or you know what to do, and you know the answer is likely to upset them, and possibly cause them to attack you? To distract them from their problem, only to focus their ire and angst on you?

To our earlier examples, let's say for sake of argument that you shouldn't ignore it or 'let someone closer say it' because few are closer than you.

What do you do? You have options:

  • You can present a less-sensitive (and less-effective) plan B, instead of taking the risk on the best option.

  • You can offer sympathy/empathy without presenting a solution.

  • You can pretend that you're not close enough to the person and that it's not your place to tell them something so sensitive.

  • You can address it head-on, tell them the more disruptive, but effective Plan A and let the chips fall where they may.

You probably inferred from the order in which I presented them that I'm advocating the 'address it head-on' solution. That certainly is appropriate in some situations.

But that's the thing - situations are different. The people involved are different. The problem is different. The solution(s) are different. One size definitely does NOT fit all.

As a Christian, I grapple with all of the above and add to that, the reaction some people have to us when we tell them they need to get to know Jesus. To a tepid or non-believer, this answer can sound canned and simplistic. It can seem tone-deaf or even self-serving. Like we get commissions or something.

So, first off, we don't get commissions. That's not a thing. (If it is, please someone clue me in, I'm new here).

Secondly, and much more important, although getting to know Jesus is easy, it is not simplistic. Getting to know Jesus is foundational to a life of peace, hope, and love, something to which we all aspire.

Knowing Jesus does not mean you will never have trouble. You will have trouble. Not 'might' but 'will.' Jesus said so himself.

But when you accept his salvation, a free gift to whoever asks for it sincerely, you get his help 24/7/365 (Jesus works on Christmas too). Help with everything and anything, from getting to work on time to realizing your most 'unrealistic' goal of a lifetime. And everything in between. If it matters to you, it matters to him. He can do all that and more.

Many are turned off by evangelists, and they all tend to be painted with the same broad brush as the famous ones who have lost their way and undercut the faith.

In real life, every Christian is an evangelist. Because that means living in a way that is a good example. It means sharing faith and praying for others in good and bad times. Some have a gift of preaching, and that's awesome. Others write, make art, fix cars, build houses, dig ditches, guard inmates, work in hospitals, offices, and cornfields. They may be retired or unemployed or disabled.

Not all Christians carry signs at military funerals or rant online about the various sins and shortcomings of 'other' people. Like the hypocrites of Jesus' time, these Pharisees, the chanters and the ranters, don't walk the walk. We pray for them, too.

The vast majority of Christians try very hard to walk the walk. It's not easy to do. None of us are perfect, nor are we close. We are no better than anyone else, nor are we any worse. We shouldn't judge but sometimes, we do, just as non-Christians do. We are all works in progress.

We are people who know Jesus. Not just the history, but who he is as the loving, living, sinless Son of God, who loves us more than anyone can imagine, and who wants to save us and have us with Him in Heaven for eternity. He will not force us. But all we have to do is ask.

Plans B, C, D, E may be perfectly good plans, and you may want to enact one or more of these too. But if they aren't accompanied by a friendship with Jesus, your chances for success plummet and your chances for frustration and failure rise.

So, Christians, don't hesitate to introduce people to Jesus. It will go better than you think.

And, non-Christians, if a Christian seeks to help you by suggesting you establish or grow a relationship with Jesus, listen to them. You have no obligation to do anything else, but hear them out. There are two reasons for this:

  1. It's hard to bring up, especially for people like me who haven't been trying to bring people to Christ for very long, and;

  2. It's truly the best decision you could ever make, as long as you live.

God bless you. Have a great week.

PS, above, it says to start a relationship with Jesus is easy. All you have to do is ask. If you're stuck for words, try these. They are bare-bones but feel free to augment them with your own details.

"Lord, Jesus, I realize I can't manage my life by myself, and you are the one who can help. I believe you have saved me as I am asking, and I seek to know you better so that I might serve you more.

I don't understand it all, but I trust you to forgive my sins and to help me find and deliver on my purpose in your perfect timing.

Thank you for inviting me to accept your gift of salvation and for making it so easy. I only wish I had done this years ago.

But I'm here now, I believe and trust and love you, and I am excited to have you work in my life.

In Jesus' name, I pray, AMEN!"

Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing this with anyone who needs or wants it.

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