Why would such successful people choose to limit themselves so much? Zuckerberg recently answered that question by saying he wanted to spend his time focused on the thing that mattered most to him. "I'd feel I'm not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life." That may be a bit of an overstatement, but it is true that highly successful people pour more of their energy into achieving their goals than most people. They strive to cut out distractions, whatever they may be, in order to really focus on making their product or service the best in its class.
Always prepare to give a defenseThat lesson is also true in sharing your faith. We are commanded to make preparations before we have encounters with people to be able to answer their questions on Christianity. 1 Peter 3:15, which reads "Always be prepared to give a defense to those who ask of the hope that is within you," is the most well-known of these verses, but there are many others.
So, while you don't have to limit your wardrobe choices, it is imperative for Christians to prepare before they step outside the door. Make sure you have studied some of the key objections that are common among skeptics such as arguments for the existence of God, dealing with the problem of evil, and the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Make sure you look at both sides of a controversial issue. As I've warned both in this series and more fully in a previous article, you do not want to erect a straw man. You should be able to put the issue and the solution into plain language without using "Christianese" in order to make sure that you are understood.
Of course, it's impossible to know everything. People will have had different experiences from you and they will have heard different things. They may bring up a point that you hadn't heard yet or perhaps something you haven't thought a lot about. The key in these situations is to recognize that you aren't fully prepared to answer that point. Don't bluff! Bluffing may be an acceptable strategy for poker, but when the goal of a conversation is to discover the truth about an issue, bluffing an answer is the worst thing you can do! In certain situations you will have to admit that you hadn't heard that point before. Don't be afraid to tell someone "that's an interesting question; I'd like to get back to you on that." However, if you offer that response, you have now obligated yourself to dig into the books and really seek out an answer. This means you will need to set aside time to investigate the question thoroughly.
Make sure you set a time to meet againBecause you are taking on such an obligation, whenever you hit a roadblock you should always agree on a time to meet again and take up the conversation. This offers two advantages: first, it makes sure the other person is serious about continuing the discussion. While the research in digging out an answer is always good for you, you don't want to always be doing research if he or she isn't interested in engaging in your findings. If they don't want to meet again, you will know their objection is simply a smokescreen.
Second, setting a time pushes you to not procrastinate. I know that a lot of things compete for our time and distractions can creep into our lives, causing us to delay doing those important things. If you delay meeting again because you haven't had time to look into the issue may be perceived by them as you not really caring about the truth, or worse they may feel you don't care about them! It's also best to try and capture a puzzling question when it is fresh in your mind, so you can get the objection right and not spend a lot of time researching something the other person wasn't ever asking.
To be successful in sharing and defending one's faith will require time and effort. There's simply no escaping that. However, once you put in that effort, you may be surprised at the dividends it pays.
To see all the posts in this series, click here.