Monday, December 12, 2005

Death of a Salesman

I have at different times tried to sell things for a living. I tried telemarketing. I tried fundraising over the phone. I tried to sell cars. I was a miserable failure at all of them. I failed to sell the products effectively. And I was miserable because I didn’t enjoy trying to sell the products. Even growing up I wasn’t very good at selling candy and oranges and light bulbs to raise money for different groups of which I was a member. I remember the pressure of trying to sell products knowing my pay check and my job was on the line.

I am by nature reserved. Because of this personality trait I was uncomfortable meeting new people in the process of trying to sell them something. I can’t really explain how much I hated being a salesman. I also remember the fear when they would object to my sales pitch. I was inclined to take them at their word when they said no thank you. But I was taught to overcome their objections, to steer them to the product I wanted to sell them rather than the product that they wanted to buy. I was to control the conversation. Mine is not a forceful personality and I felt unnatural in this role. I failed as a telemarketer. I never sold a single car. I am not a salesman.

I remember having the same unnatural feeling in a college class I took. The class was an evangelism class. We were taught a script. We memorized scriptures. We learned how to walk people down the “Roman’s Road.” And then we role played scenarios in class. We practiced leading our fellow Bible college students to Jesus. I felt unnatural when people had objections. I felt like a salesman. We were to go with our partners to witness to x amount of people using this approach. It never worked out to get together with my partner. I didn’t lead anyone to Christ during this class. I think I got a B.

Now as a pastor I am trying to lead my church. I want my church to grow. I believe we have great people in our church. But when I am out knocking on doors I feel like a salesman. I think that is why I hate knocking on doors. It feels unnatural to me. Plus I don’t like it much when people come to my door trying to sell me on something. But anyway, I feel like I am trying to sell my church to someone who could really take it or leave it. My church may not be what they are looking for in life. I often feel like a failure.

However I do try to share my faith with people I come across on a regular basis. When I the conversation turns toward spiritual things I tell about my faith. I talk about Jesus. It feels natural. I really like to do it. I have led some people to Christ. Not as many as I would like but still some. We need to understand that we are not called by Jesus to be sales persons. We are called to be witnesses. A witness of course can only talk about what they have seen and heard first hand. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses.” Acts 1:8

When I can help someone to put their faith in Christ then I tell them that they really need to become a disciple of Jesus. Our church can really help them in this process. And when they realize that they need a church to help them to grow we have a match and I am really not selling them anything. I am helping them to find what they want and need. This feels natural. I love to do it. I hope that I can do it more often.

I don’t need to sell Jesus. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict people of sin. I just need to tell them what I know. "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. " 1 John 1:1

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