That “E” Word
I once went to a training seminar and the speaker introduced the next discussion topic by saying “Next we will discuss that hated “E” word.” Most people guessed he meant education but the topic was evangelism. “Whoa” everyone reacted. We were not there to pass out tracts on some street corner nor walk around proclaiming the world’s end was near. You might be thinking the exact thing right now.
I know what you’re thinking…Evangelism? What does that have to do with mindfulness, better living (for those not interested in evangelical beliefs) and growing a better self? In a word – harvest. That which we reap from our being is our evangelism to the world. Recently I heard a talk in which the speaker accurately portrayed the shunning many have for this word “evangelism”. Evangel is the root of the word evangelism and while, like many words, it has had its metamorphoses throughout time, it means to “announce”. For us today, in this context, it means how we are seen and heard.
Evangelism became the property of Christians when they began to define the word to mean the good news or gospel. This occurred sometime in the mid 1600’s and still relates to the original meaning. The speaker I heard said we needed a new word, a different synonym for the word “evangelism” that was less frightening and less denomination specific. Some suggested “practice” while others simply wanted to forget the word existed at all. It is a word that ranks in the lower forty percent of all words so clearly others would like to ignore it as well.
The problem is that we cannot ignore our personal evangelism. It is how others see us and hear us and it is not based just on our appearance but more importantly on our actions. This blog is not just for Christians nor is it devoid of spirituality. We are discussing evangelism today because I firmly believe that evangelism is not the property of the faithful, any faithful. I believe evangelism is dialogue and we all have that every day.
Adam S. McHugh wrote a book about introverts in today’s culture of extroverts. “The verbal tool… is not confrontation or preaching but dialogue. We subject ourselves to the same questions we pose to others, and as we traverse them together, we may arrive at surprising conclusions we could never have reached when simply trying to defeat one another’s logic. The process is more important than an immediate decision.” When we engage in dialogue, whether of the voice or of actions, we are participating in evangelism and sharing who and what we are.
Each day we live we “grow” our self-worth. Every hour we live we should “water” that self-worth by increasing our knowledge, gaining understanding of self as well as wisdom for encouraging dialogue with others. The biggest stop sign we have in our communion with others is fear. We may think of it as hesitancy but it is fear, fear that we don’t really know how to proceed.
I really wish I could give you an owner’s manual for life but there just is not one. Hindsight is definitely easier than trying to predict the future. I have a notepad that states “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” How do we create the future? That is also not a certainty but we can have a better chance at creating a good future if we live what we seek. If we want a more peaceful world, we have to live peacefully. If we want a better environment, we have to be better stewards of our natural resources. We have to learn from the past, practice in the present, and believe in the future.
Gardeners do just that when planting their gardens. After all, it takes hope and faith in the future when planting a garden. A successful gardener learns from past years and evaluates what worked and brought about a better yield. They then apply those lessons to the current crop, believing in the potential of future harvests. We should do that with ourselves and yet…we seldom do.
We need to plant our feet firmly in evangelistic soil, the territory of good news and positive thinking. We all have had those “oops!” moments. We all have had a time we stumbled or bumbled our way through something. What we need to do is remember we are growing each and every day in the soil of those goofs. Our very being here on earth is a story of hope. We are the living embodiment of potential and survival. That minute of great embarrassment or failure or even grief has already become history. It is now evidence of survival and provides the seed for tomorrow’s success.
The best knowledge we can remember is that we are always growing. For me the best synonym for evangelism is presence. We need to always be present in our living, practicing what we believe and remembering that life is a learning experience. When we are truly present in our living, then we will share the good news of our beliefs and our being, the presence of life itself.