How to overcome the awkwardness of talking about your faith with family
I grew up in a Christian family, but for some reason, the “J” word still made any conversation a little uncomfortable. You know, Jesus.
Talking with my mom, dad, and brother about things we can see with our eyes was safe. It felt good, cozy, and easy. But for some reason, the things we can’t see like faith, Jesus, and spiritual growth were harder to share. We weren’t in the habit of talking about our spiritual lives with each other.
Today, it’s a lot easier. Not because I suddenly became a Bible teacher or theologian, but because I’ve practiced. Talking about Jesus with family can feel like opening an old door with rusty hinges. At first, it’s uncomfortable and you have to work hard to get it open. Over time, as the door is opened more, the hinges loosen.
Eventually, the door has been opened so many times and the hinges are so loose they fall off. The door goes away, and the doorway is always open. If you’re thinking, “That sounds great, but how can I get there?”, here are some tools that helped me.
Five Tips for Talking Faith with Your Family
1. Pray for them often.
Before you share any words with your family, talk to Jesus. Talk to Him about your family more than you talk to your family about Him.
God knows what’s going on in their hearts and minds, and His Spirit is already working to draw them to Himself. When we pray, we’re partnering with God and joining His conversation with our family rather than starting our own (John 15:7, Jeremiah 33:3).
2. Listen as much or more than you speak.
This isn’t a TED Talk or lecture. It’s a conversation. Leave room in any conversation for the other person to share where they are coming from. Your family is much more likely to feel comfortable talking to you about faith when they know they are being listened to.
Jesus’ brother, James, tells us to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). We can’t be so eager to get to another point that we miss an even greater opportunity. In those quiet moments, we’re able to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and discern where He would have the conversation go.
3. Ask engaging questions.
This one may seem obvious, but it wasn’t for me. Conversations with my older brother changed when I stopped and asked him questions.
For example, my brother kept saying things about his identity that I knew weren’t true. Rather than correct him, one day I simply asked him, “Who told you that?” From there, we had a great conversation about where true identity comes from.
Proverbs 20:5 says, “The purposes of a person's heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” Asking engaging questions is one way to do this. A good question can shift the other person’s heart from a defensive position to a thoughtful one.
I’ll never forget my brother saying to me, 'When you were young you were so on fire for Jesus. I waited for it to fade, and it never did.'
4. Let your words come from the overflow of your time with God.
Conversations don’t have to be forced, and they are better if they aren’t. Allow the conversations you have to come straight out of the overflow of what Jesus is doing in you. In Matthew 12:34, Jesus reminded the religious leaders that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
If your family is sharing wins in their week, you can share a win in yours. It doesn’t have to be a weird conversation that seems out of place. When Jesus is our life, rather than a part of our lives, what He’s doing in us will come up in conversation.
5. Be patient.
Your relationship with your family is ongoing. They aren’t the people you see at the gym once and never again. They will be there for many seasons to come. The first conversation you have might not lead to their salvation, and that’s OK. Be patient with them the same way Jesus was patient in pursuing a relationship with you.
Peter, the disciple who led the early church, reminds us, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Your family knows you the best, and over time they will see the fruit of your faith. I’ll never forget my brother saying to me, “When you were young, you were so on fire for Jesus. I waited for it to fade, and it never did.”
We can’t always see it at the moment, but God is using our faith in our families lives. When you love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul, others can’t help but notice.