How we say something can make a big impact on what our listeners hear: I have overdosed on drugs. I have survived more than one motorcycle crash. I am currently signed as the director of photography for a local film. I know some of the most respected Christian authors in the country.

You’re probably waiting for me to tell you all of these things are jokes, but they’re not. Everything I just said is true. I have indeed overdosed on drugs, of course, they were antacids (totally by accident, I lost track of how many I had taken). I have survived multiple motorcycle accidents; granted they were on a small off-roader in the middle of a big pasture. I am currently the D.P. of a student film being directed by someone I go to church with (probably because I am considered trustworthy enough to hold a camera). As for the Christians authors, I could give you a long list of respectable writers and their works that you should definitely check out.

You can see the way we say something can really affect how our listeners (or readers) understand it. This is true in any situation, even preaching the Gospel. The areas you focus on and the qualities of God you stress will affect the message you’re sending out. When I was growing up (particularly middle school), my church went through a couple of youth ministers that were very good at telling us what we ought to do and what we ought not to do. There was a lot of emphasis put on being committed to Jesus and following Him in all things. To put it bluntly, “don’t do these things or else you’re disobeying God.” The result: a dry high school ministry and a very legalistic group of middle-schoolers, including myself.

What do you like to focus on when you talk about Jesus? Maybe it’s His amazing patience, possibly because you can see the way He’s stuck with you through your struggle with sin. Maybe it’s His never-ending, all-consuming love because He has filled that lonely void in your life and you’re now more satisfied than you could ever imagine. Maybe you just talk about how big and powerful God is because you can’t help but be in awe of His creation and sovereignty therein. These are all amazing characteristics of God. But whatever you do focus on, make sure you don’t accidentally limit God’s character by forgetting He’s also so much more! And don’t stop there. We need to be learning even more about Him, and there’s always something new to learn.

Read John 3:16-21.

God helps each of us say certain things very effectively, and these things vary for each of us. God speaks to us through our circumstances, and He teaches us what we should teach others through our experiences as well. Our most powerful testimony can’t be taught: it is how God has specifically and personally touched our lives. God takes our sins, struggles, doubts, worries, heartaches, and problems—past or present—to help point us and others to Him. This is very personal, and it takes God’s great, fear-crushing love to bring it out of us. One of the greatest witnesses of God is a follower so sold out to Him, he’ll tell you his struggles in a heartbeat because he is unashamed of what God is doing in his life. Why is this so touching? It’s relatable because no matter how much we hide it, everybody still has problems in their lives.

As one last thing, remember that knowing the person you’re talking to can make a big difference in the effectiveness of your witness. This allows you to help him with what he’s going through right now. Show God’s comfort to those who are sad and His strength to those who feel weak. We have to always be watchful that our own preferences don’t in any way hinder the perfect gospel of Jesus.

Lord thank You for all You’ve done in our lives! Thank You for this love! Please let Your love fuel our desire to share Your story with others! In Jesus’ amazing Name, Hallelujah! Amen!