Time To Stop Sharing Testimonies In Church
I would like to share the testimony of this 30-year-old guy – it’s one of those really good testimonies.
He was working in the mailroom of a large multinational and had been there for a while just doing his job. There had been people that he even helped on the job who had now become management level staff now but he was still just a contract staff.
One morning, he got a call on his intercom to come to the Boardroom. He quickly grabbed his jacket, tried to straighten himself up and make a quick dash to meet them
Arriving there, he found out that the board and management team were having a strategy session.
The MD had spent the night thinking about an initiative but he could not adapt it to make it work for the organization. As it turned out, no one else in board or management team could either.
It was then that the head of administration unit (who once worked with the young man in the mailroom) suggested that they call him. In his words “this young man has a way of analyzing things and coming up with a plan for how they can work. He did that for me once”.
As it would turn out, the young man was able to do the same thing at the strategy session. The MD was so impressed that he made the guy the deputy CEO immediately and put him in charge of executing the initiative
So, in the morning a mailroom staff and afternoon deputy CEO, a senior management staff.
As you can imagine, everyone in church went high – most people were already claiming the testimony.
So, what is wrong with sharing this testimony?
What’s Wrong With The Testimony
I have a confession
This testimony is not completely real. No, it’s real in a sense. It’s just that I left out parts of the boring stuff.
The testimony is really the story of Joseph, Prime Minister of Egypt adapted for a modern audience.
When I tell you that, you immediately start to fill in the rest of the story.
But what really is the God testimony in Joseph’s story?
When Is Testimony Time?
I have always wondered what really constitutes a testimony
Is it the happily ever end to a story? Does that mean I don’t have a testimony till I get to my happily ever after?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a masochist. I enjoy a happy end to every story including mine.
I didn’t catch the drift of when a testimony happens until recently
It’s Testimony Time
During a sermon at my home church recently, the visiting preacher told the story of his early days of after conversion.
Prior to His salvation experience, he was a big time drunk. But he got changed
So, every time he went to church afterward and there was a call for testimony, he would get up and say something like “I want to testify and thank God that I am sober”
He did this every time there was a testimony call. As you can imagine some people started telling him that he didn’t need to be sharing this every time.
Well, for him, he could be bothered. It was really an acknowledgment of God at work in Him and not looking out for a big hip-hip-hurray.
Creating A Testimony
Let’s do a bit of Bible adventure
The book of Hebrews chapter 11 is a testimony session of who-is-who in the Bible.
After writing about folks that had great happily ever after, the author adds folks that really had it rough.
“Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” Hebrews 11:36-38
The real clincher for me was that he lumped all of them as great testimony for faith – happy ending or not
“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,” Hebrews 11:39
This made it clear to me that a testimony does not need to end with a happily ever after.
A Testimony In Time
The real testimony in our lives is not us getting a happily ever after.
It is us holding to our faith convictions and seeing God keep us through the circumstances of life we face with them.
We tell ourselves that our testimony is still cooking and wait for the happily ever after to happen before we can share it with people.
But I think we underestimate the value of our own lives and the gift of God in us.
The very fact that we are in the difficult trenches and still refusing to back down on our faith is already the testimony.
The happily ever after is only the extra topping on the story.
And does God give super tasty extra toppings!
Joseph’s Real Testimony
The real testimony in Joseph story was not that he became Prime Minister of Egypt in the end. It’s that he kept his faith convictions through all the circumstances he went through.
When he was sold, he had a testimony, he kept his faith convictions in God
When he became a slave at Potiphar’s house, he kept his faith convictions in God. He worked for his boss benefit, been accountable for everything and refusing to sleep with his boss’ wife.
When he was wrongfully sent to prison, he still kept his faith convictions in God. He served the warden faithfully and anyone that showed up in prison including the cup-bearer and baker.
When he was asked to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, he still kept his faith convictions. He offered not only interpretation but also actionable advice.
The real testimony of Joseph was a life of strong faith convictions that was consistent with every situation of life.
The Faith Convictions Of Joseph
And what really was Joseph’s faith conviction? I’ll let Joseph tell you himself
But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Gen 50:19-21
You might be thinking – Joe only said this to his brothers. Yes, he did but I bet you that was what he was thinking about in every situation of life he was him.
At Potiphar’s house, Joseph would have put it like this, “your plan for me is to just be your slave but God’s plan is for me to help you, so I’ll do that.”
With the prison warden, Joseph would have put it like this, “you see me as a prisoner but God’s plan is for me to make your work easier”
And with Pharaoh, Joseph would have put it like this, “you see me as only an interpreter of dreams but God’s plan is for me to give you the best advice to help you rule Egypt well”
Joseph already had testimonies before he got his happily ever after scene.
And so do you.
Time To Stop Sharing Testimonies In Church
I am really not saying we should stop sharing testimonies in Church. I think as a practice sharing testimonies encourage a lot of us.
I just don’t like the practice where we are trying to have the person cut their story short and go straight to happily ever after.
People now start thinking God is unfair because they haven’t gotten their happily ever after.
Maybe we need to start teaching people how to give testimonies
But more than that, we need to learn to be patient and let people tell their story.
If we don’t have time for too many stories, then let’s plan to have just one person share their story.
We all need to see and appreciate their journey of faith.
This will assure a lot of us that we are not alone in the faith-walk and God occasionally takes his sweet time to bring us to happily ever after when He chooses.
Or He may even decide that we don’t get happily ever after the way we want it.
But that is only on this side heaven.
The happily-ever-after that God promises on the other side of heaven is more than anything we could have ever missed out of now.
I look forward to reading your testimony.