Several months later I found myself having lunch with a recent acquaintance who was grieving the loss of her mother and questioning the goodness of God. Somewhat more confident in the faithfulness of God, yet still sick to my stomach at the thought of misleading her, I simply prayed, "Lord, reveal your goodness and love to her." She and I discussed the nature of sin, the hope that is in Christ, and the unfailing love of the Father. And while she didn't make a profession of faith, we both left with full stomachs and the encouraging reminder that the Lord sees and hears us. My fear was loosening. Yes, our Lord uses whom he will for his good purposes.
Then five months ago I met with an intelligent and committed skeptic. She had initiated the meeting but made clear that she was only asking questions. "I'm not here to be converted." The old fear crept back up and whispered with fierceness, "You're wasting your time. You can never convince her. You're not even proficient at sharing the gospel with seekers, much less skeptics."
I took a long sip of iced tea and reflected on what the Lord had taught me. She was right. I wasn't there to convert her. I was just the messenger. My role was to be present and to respond to the guiding of the Holy Spirit.
I cleared my throat and simply said, "You're right. I'm not here to convert you. I just want to have an open and honest dialogue about any questions you may have regarding God." And then I smiled with the knowledge that her salvation was not dependent upon how effectively I shared the gospel. Her salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit.
After reflecting on these three lunches, I realized that my fear wasn't so much the fear of sharing the gospel, but the fear of being exposed as a less-than-perfect and inadequate leader. And you know what? My fear was correct. I am less than perfect. We all are.
The beautiful truth is that God is enough. He uses my less-than-perfect talents and my inadequate abilities to advance his kingdom work. So as my calendar fills with lunch appointments, I go into each lunch less fearful and more prayerful. I'm growing in confidence as a ministry leader, knowing that the Lord is with me and working through me.