Quiet Witnessing: A Practical Guide

The cross on Mount Royal in Montreal by Miles. Click on the image to visit mute.rigent.com.

Lent brings a lot of Christians out of the woodwork. For some believers, talking about their faith is easy. They’re able witness to people they meet unselfconsciously and feel at ease discussing their beliefs.

For me, that’s not so easy. I feel intensely self-conscious when the topic comes up in conversation. While I’ll tell people I’m Christian, I don’t like to get into it because I don’t want people to feel I’m imposing my beliefs on them or that I’m preaching at them. I want to be the “cool” Christian who quietly does my thing, believes what I believe, and doesn’t talk about it.

But that’s not what being a Christian is about. The debate about the Quebec Charter of Values happening here (“religion à la maison” – keep your religion at home) has reminded me that as Christians, we are called to witness: “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation'” (Mark 16:15).

5 Ways You Can Witness Quietly in Daily Life

If this idea still makes you uncomfortable, you’re not alone. It’s uncool to have faith these days, but that doesn’t make you, a believer, uncool. There are ways to witness quietly, through our actions, to show what it means to be Christian by example. Here are 5 ways you can add some quiet witnessing to your Lenten routine.

1. Get yourself sorted.

It’s hard to talk credibly about something if you don’t know anything about it.

If you want to be prepared to answer questions about your beliefs (whatever they may be), you’ve got to know what they are. That can mean doing some reading, praying, writing in a journal, or just thinking about it.

Whatever it takes, know what you believe and work to reinforce your faith so that you can share your beliefs with total conviction.

2. Cut the gossip.

I love to gossip. I know it’s terrible of me, but I’m a specialist at making entirely reasonable-sounding observations about people that are actually just pure gossip.

Even if it’s meant kindly, gossip is just an excuse to discuss things that aren’t our business and to pass judgment on other people. And, to paraphrase Pope Francis, who are we to judge?

3. Demonstrate love.

Good LORD, this is a tough one. But being an example of Christian love is the best way to give people who haven’t experienced God’s unconditional love a taste of what it’s like.

The best way I find to do this (let’s be honest, when I *remember* to do this) is to put myself in the other person’s shoes. Before I speak, I try to ask myself how I would feel if someone said what I’m about to say to me.

Demonstrating love is also about listening and understanding. You may decide that a certain joke wouldn’t give you offense, but it may invite a different reaction from another person. By listening and really trying to understand others, we are better able to love them.

4. Don’t be a hater.

Haters gonna hate, right? But being Christian isn’t about using what we believe to discriminate against others or marginalize any individual or group.

Christ washed people’s dirty feet. He ate with outcasts and delinquents. We are called to treat every single human being we encounter with the dignity and respect that person’s humanity deserves. And that means people we disagree with, even people of different religions, sexual orientations, races and ethnicities… Everyone.

5. Be brave enough to speak up.

As I write this last one, I’m trying to convince myself to do it. Grow a pair of cojones and don’t be afraid to tell people, “I believe in the mind-blowing love of Jesus Christ.”

Don’t be afraid to speak out against injustice as well. Jesus was the first to call people out on hypocritical behavior, and Christians are called to do the same–to others and ourselves.

Defend a colleague from the office bully. Pipe up and stick up for the underdog. Though we’re often called Christ’s flock, don’t be a sheep and unthinkingly follow the example of those perpetrating injustice.

Look to examples for help.

Of course, good ol’ Jesus is the first example we should look to. That means scripture reading and understanding of the gospels. But sometimes Jesus can seem like a distant character rather than a living, breathing person.

So look to examples from people you know. Who are the modern-day saints in your life that you would like to emulate? Find some role models who you think are doing a good job of demonstrating what it means to be Christian in 2014.