Before his ascension into heaven, Jesus entrusted his disciples with the Great Commission: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:18-20). Even Christians who take this responsibility seriously may fail to see the desired results. Usually, this is due to the potential convert’s resistance to the truth. In some cases, though, our own lack of character may be getting in the way.
Aristotle, the famous philosopher of ancient Greece, believed that character had more to do with the reception of a message than anything else. While Paul told the Corinthians that “what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord” (2 Cor. 4:5), it remains true that in every communication the communicator colors the message. For this reason, we must strive for the character that distorts the message least.
This means that my relationship with the Lord must be healthy. I must passionately seek God, being patient, submissive, and aware of my own helplessness in the grip of sin. Can I awaken in others a deep sense of spiritual need if I don’t feel it myself?
A healthy connection to God translates into good character in relation to others. An effective personal evangelist is cheerful, kind, tactful, generous, compassionate, helpful, understanding, and forgiving. He doesn’t want to be insincere, defensive, suspicious, cold, conceited, self-centered, or withdrawn. Paul, the most effective evangelist in the early church, said that “we put no obstacle in any one’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: […] by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God” (2 Cor. 6:3-7).