The other day, I wrote about my epiphany of one of the greatest fears that a Christian person might have when talking about their Faith is the feared STIGMA that all Christians are self-righteous, hypocritical A-HOLES. I believe this fear actually holds so many of us back from speaking our truth and actually impacting people’s lives. (read here)
The fear of the stigma becomes a deterrent for standing up and speaking our truth! It prevents many people from sharing openly or from doing something like I’ve done— combining their business and their Faith.
Because the truth is just because I run a Faith-Based Company does not mean I’m over here counting your sins and judging you. No, it DOES NOT in fact mean that I’m a Christian A-Hole. So I think it’s time we stand up and say it and prove it with our actions.
This past weekend I was at a Fitness conference among 80+ other women, and I was able to successfully hurdle this fear of the stigma that others were going to “not like me” or “shy away from me” because of my beliefs. Well, that didn’t happen!
While I didn’t intentionally set out to do these things, I can reflect now on the 5 things I did that helped me to avoid this misconception and have a really great time bonding with fellow Faith-based people and non-Faith-based people alike.
I encourage you, if you are Faith-based to apply whatever fits well with you in your life without the fear of ruffling feathers. If you are not Faith-based, or have had reservations about your belief because of a past experience with an overly-religious people, I hope this will give you some hope that there is a way for your to establish a relationship with God and not fear what your lifestyle will be like!
5 Ways to NOT Be a Christian A-Hole:
1. Stand-Up and Say Your Truth With Confidence:
People know when you’re faking it. They know when you’re nervous from second guessing yourself. So, the key to being able to do this is to hold your conviction of what you truly believe. Faith is not easy, but you don’t have to have it “perfect” to be able to talk freely about your experience and even admit that you have questions or doubts but still have Faith. Your only task is to stand in your truth! People resonate with those that hold conviction. That speaks far louder than any choice of words!
2. People Don’t Remember What You Say, But Do Remember How You Make Them Feel:
Growing up, I do remember a lot of experiences where I felt uncomfortable about religious people. I remember those people that tried to guilt me for my sin and it did push me away. But, luckily, there were just as many people that showed me love and compassion through interest and genuine care in my life. Today, I remember 0% of what words people ever spoke to me, but I will remember always how they made me feel. I am still drawn to seek these people and be around them because of how I feel when I’m with them.
Hold this truth close to your heart too. Let go of the need to say “just the right thing” to people you want to reach and instead just focus on doing the things that make other people feel good to be around you. Being present in the moment allows you to take this opportunity and represent God best.
3. People Respond to Passion and Kindness:
I spoke with almost all 80 of the women in the room and did not ask a single one of them about their Faith. You might find that odd, but what I did I think inspired far greater. I spoke about my Faith with such passion and kindness that it gave opportunity for whomever I was speaking with to open up if they chose to. Many of the women did and we had a great conversation.
When I speak about A. Wright Fit, I realize my passion just lights up. It is not about the business that excites me, it is what God has done through my life and the very miracle that I am where I am today. Speaking of that personal pride and joy from God resonates FAR greater than having a “philosophical” discussion of what it means to be Faith-based or not Faith-based.
I could see in the women’s eyes that they would light up as my energy poured out of me. So no matter what their current relationship with God was, I transmitted mine without having to use words. I hope they saw such a passionate relationship with God within me that they might desire one for themselves! I can only show this, not explain it.
4. Use Far More “I’s” and “We’s” than “You’s”:
Ok, this might be Sales 101, but I think for many believers this might be a necessary refresher! If you want to get someone to do something, buy something, or BELIEVE something, you don’t go about doing it by TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO and all the reasons why. Why? Because our innate human response when someone tells us what to do is to act like we did as a child—- get defensive and do the opposite!
It’s true for every single relationship out there! I genuinely believe that most Christians that are trying to share their Faith have no intention of coming across as self-righteous A holes! Of course not! They are trying to do what Jesus calls us to do. But it’s just a matter of delivery that throws off the intention.
So, in my writing and in my speaking, I have learned that the best way to speak about beliefs is to speak from personal experience. Many more “I feel…” or “I have…” or “We can…” and a lot less “You should’s…”
Even a seemingly innocent question of “Why?” can invoke a natural defensive response. Think about yourself and how you respond when someone asks you “Why?” about your beliefs or actions. You naturally get a little defensive, don’t you? A far better question is, “Tell me more about that?”
Keeping things trigger-free of defensive emotions is the best way to have a loving conversation.
5. In the End It’s Up to God Anyway, So Have Faith:
Trust me, I am not taking this as a cop out by any means. God calls ALL who have a relationship with Him to create more disciples among us (Matthew 28:16-20). But we must always remember that it is ultimately GOD and that person that has the control in this.
We are just responsible for our part, not their part. God has to take care of that from the inside.
Jesus tells us this point blank. “You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of Him in my name.” (John 15:16 GNB)
I think this is one of the most profound mental shifts I have made in my Faith. I have to establish a deep enough belief and FAITH in God that allows me to trust that ALL I have to do is MY BEST and the rest is up to God and the other person. To be obedient to MY responsibility here on earth with thanksgiving and the honor of being chosen and capable.
Nothing can be forced from the outside. Everything comes from within. Their personal experiences build up until staying the same is far more painful than changing their beliefs. That is what it was for me and that is what it is for everyone!
These are just my takes on what I am doing that I think is working. I am not perfect at it and do know that I need to grow in courage and Faith more and more. But I was proud of the progress I made in overcoming a lot of fears this last weekend! I hope this encourages you in your Faith this week too!