We’ve launched a new video series at work called Caffeine and Catholicism, designed to be your quick jolt for living out the Catholic faith
In this premiere episode (seen below) we’ll answer the age old question: how do you convert your friends and family?
As I discussed in the video, years ago I worked in the IT industry, leading teams to develop software systems, which gave me the awesome opportunity to work with a wide and diverse range of people.
Around that same time (late 90’s/early 2000’s), I was experiencing a re-awakening of my faith, and an absolutely unquenchable desire to save souls for Jesus Christ.
Like many people, I had friends and family members who had long ago fallen away from the faith, but everyday at my job I worked with people who had no faith at all.
One of my co-workers was a programmer named Ram (short for Sriman), and we went to lunch together frequently where one day I learned that Ram really had no idea who this Jesus Christ guy was.
Here was my opportunity. *I* was going to convert Ram. Over the course of sweet and sour chicken, *I* would get Ram to give his life to Christ.
So I laid it all out. We’re all sinners. We needed redemption. Jesus died on the Cross for our sins so we could go to heaven. It’s all right there in the Bible. Why wouldn’t Ram want that?
But he didn’t. He thought it was a nice story, but meant nothing to him. This was my first experience of eating a major heaping helping of humble pie when it came to sharing my faith.
Over time, I had similar conversations with other friends and family members and they all had the same response: crickets. No interest. Nothing.
Over time – and thanks be to God – I realized that my first problem here is that I wasn’t truly trying to convert Ram for Ram’s sake, or even better, for God’s sake. I was doing it for my own sake, to take credit for it, as if I had a sales quota that had to be met. We seek conversion of souls for the sake of the kingdom of God, so that others choose something not just because we believe it’s a good thing, but because God loves them and wants them to choose God.
So the conclusion I finally came to was that perhaps my witty words of wisdom were not what Ram needed. What would have made a greater impact would be for Ram to see Christ’s light shining through me. Because when we allow the joy of Christ to shine from us, that light of Christ is what will draw people closer to Him, far more than words.
St. Philip Neri said, “First let a little love find entrance into their hearts, and the rest will follow.”
Through our loving actions, our bold loving witness, our lovingly patient example, and sometimes by just lovingly keeping our mouths shut, we can often have major impact on the lives of others. Or rather – Christ THROUGH us – can.
Rather than just seizing opportunities to speak, pray that the Holy Spirit will provide the right moments, and the right words to say.
A bishop once told St. Monica – the mother of St. Augustine, who initially did everything he could to run away from God – to “Speak less to Augustine about God and more to God about Augustine.”
In most cases, private prayer softens hearts far better than beating people over the head with a Scripture stick ever will.
So how do you convert your friends and family?
More than anything, keep in mind that it’s not you that will convert anyone’s heart. It’s Jesus Christ, listening to our prayers and working through willing and loving disciples, that will do the heavy living.
Share your stories (of success and failure) of sharing the faith in the comments below!