The Importance of Knowing Your Story
By Taylor Lazenby
Eight seconds. That is the time you have to capture someone’s attention before they decide whether or not to listen to you. As Christians, our stories must be compelling enough to capture someone’s attention long enough to share our story and God’s story.
A personal testimony is your story of how you became a Christian and what God is doing in your life currently. A good testimony will clearly communicate how knowing Jesus Christ has changed your life.
An effective testimony communicates three essential components in 90 seconds or less:
Your life before Christ
How you came to know Christ
Your life after Christ
YOUR LIFE BEFORE CHRIST
In this first section of your testimony, you should explain what your life was like before you knew Jesus Christ. It should explain things such as what your interests were prior to Christ, things that you valued most, what your idols were, and what your attitude toward Christianity was like.
This part of your testimony should communicate that you were stuck in your sin, and there was nothing that you could do to enhance your situation. A good key to think about when presenting this part of your testimony is how you can frame your life before Christ to be most relatable to the person whom you are engaging.
HOW YOU CAME TO KNOW CHRIST
This is arguably the most important part of your testimony. This section of your testimony should clearly present the Gospel. Point out how the things that you were chasing in life were not fulfilling, how God opened your eyes to your sin, and how Jesus transformed your life.
The telling of the Gospel should include how God is your maker, how sin is your failure, how Jesus is your savior, how repentance and faith is your answer, and how eternal life is your pleasure now and forevermore.
Include things such as how you came to understand the gospel, books that may influenced you, how a conversation you had with a person changed your perspective on Christianity, or explain how an event in your life led you to see the gospel for the first time. Include one verse that sums up your experience (for example, Galatians 2:20).
LIFE AFTER CHRIST
After you communicate your life before Christ and how you came to know Christ, talk briefly about how your life has been different since becoming a Christian. Provide an answer to the person you are talking to about how Christ has fulfilled the deepest needs of your heart and affected your outlook on life.
When explaining your personal testimony, it is crucial that you do not come across as looking down your nose at them or arrogant or special. Christians are to be mild mannered and full of grace because the salvation that is found in Christ was not a work that you have done. It is the work of Jesus on your behalf. You are a recipient of grace that you did not deserve. Therefore, there is nothing to boast about except Christ.
IMPORTANCE OF MASTERING YOUR STORY
Your personal testimony is the best tool that you can master to share the gospel with someone.
First, the best part about your story is that it is your story. Someone who does not know your story cannot tell you that your story is not true. The person that you engage with your story does not know your experiences, so they have no reason to say that your experience in coming to faith in Jesus did not happen.
Secondly, your personal testimony can be malleable. You can shape it, mold it, shift it around, and tweak it depending on whom you are talking to. Sometimes, you may need to emphasize one part of your story more because it may resonate better with whom you are talking to.
Thirdly, we are commanded in Scripture to have a response for the faith that we have. 1 Peter states that we should “always be prepared to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope within you.” Having a mastery of your own story is giving a defense of the faith that has been granted to you by God in Jesus Christ. It is the best news in the world, and the only news that can save.