I'm Concerned About the Faith of My Family Members

Dear REAP Team,

I recently have been getting really involved in church and being closer with Jesus. My family, on the other hand, just goes to church and thinks they are done! Every time I tell them they should get more involved they yell at me and tell me to mind my own business. I think I should just give up! What should I do?


Dear Friend,

It is great to hear from you!  First of all, let me say that I think it is awesome that you have been getting more involved in church and growing closer to Jesus.  As I'm sure you could guess, I am a big fan of both of those things.  The joy, the peace, and the sense of purpose we have when we get more involved with our faith are simply incredible, but they can also be difficult to understand; especially for those who have not yet experienced these things to the extent that we have.

Having said that, I have a few thoughts about your family situation.  I think it is great that you want your family to experience what you have experienced, I think it is wonderful that you have shared that desire with them, and I think it is good that you have encouraged them to get more involved.  To me, this is a clear sign that you love them and that you want the best for them.

Honestly, at this point, based upon what you have written, I think it would be wise of you to take their advice and back off just a little bit.  But I am in no way saying that you should give up on them! Please allow me explain...

When I was younger and really on fire for my faith – as you clearly are – I think I actually alienated some people because I came on too strong with my words and I wasn’t as prayerful and sensitive as I could have been.  For me, this especially happened with my family.  Looking back on my life, I wish I had been a little more careful in how much I spoke to them about God and faith.  I have since heard it said that "you should always talk to God about someone before you talk to that person about God."  And a Bible verse that I once read describes how I once was - though I try not be that way any more - “Without knowledge even zeal is not good; and he who acts hastily, blunders.” (Proverbs 19:2) To me, that verse says that without the spiritual gift of knowledge that comes from the Holy Spirit through prayer, even our well-intentioned enthusiasm can cause problems when we try to rush what God is trying to do.

I think the challenge in sharing our faith with others is to make sure that we are always loving them well, always wanting what is best for them, being very patient with them (as God is with us), making sure that we don't push too hard, and being very careful that we don't get too "preachy".  Countless people have been turned off to God and to Christianity because of this “preachiness” which seems to lack sensitivity to both the Holy Spirit and to our listener.

At this point, now that they know you want them to get more involved, it would be wise to consider the famous quote of St. Francis of Assisi: "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”  I don't think it is necessary that you use too many more words with them for a while, since they have recently reacted so negatively to your words.  The way that we preach the gospel at all times without words is through our example.  I am absolutely convinced that the more you let Jesus transform your heart, the more attractive your faith and your lifestyle will become to everyone around you, especially your family.  So keep growing in faith, and ask Him to keep making you into the person that He wants you to be.  Stay involved, and keep looking for more ways to get involved.  Don't underestimate the power of your own spiritual growth!

Again, I am not saying to give up on sharing your faith with your family! What I am saying is to work on the silent witness of a holy life lived for Christ.  If you do this, I think that the Holy Spirit will guide you regarding the 2nd half of what St. Francis wrote “…when necessary use words.”  There are definitely times we need to be vocal; the challenge is to know when to talk and when to be quiet – and I think we grow in that sensitivity as we spend more and more time in prayer. I wrote a blog about this that I would suggest that you read.  It is called "The Best Advice I Can Possibly Give"

As it says in the Bible in 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear…”  So keep praying, keep growing in faith, and keep asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom as to how you can share your faith with your family – by both the witness of your life and your words.

God Bless,

Paul Masek