There is a reason the well-known phrase “practice makes perfect” exists. It is, for the most part, true. Some argue that perfection is never attainable or that it’s not possible to know when perfection has been achieved. So maybe a more appropriate statement is this: “practice makes better.” When it comes to sharing your story, you’ll need to practice. And practice. And practice some more. Like any endeavor we undertake, we improve as we practice, hear critique, listen to feedback, edit, and try again. As Christians, we should be open to receiving critique from safe, reliable sources. We need to be sensitive to critique from both other believers and God Himself.
Human critique should come from those around us who have proven themselves to be trustworthy, wise, and in tune with the Holy Spirit. Proverbs 27:6 says that “faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” While we may prefer kisses and compliments, it is better for us to incur faithful wounds (in other words, helpful wounds) from those who deeply care about us. A friend will speak the truth, even if it is painful, in order to produce growth in her friend’s life.
The apostle Paul is a great example of a man who sought critique. Early in his ministry, Paul’s calling to minister to the Gentiles had been called into question. Feeling the need to be bolstered and encouraged by the community, he headed to Jerusalem to consult with the apostles. He describes it like this:
“I went up because of a revelation and set before them . . . the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. . . . . And from those who seemed to be influential . . . they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised . . . and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. (Galatians 2:2–9, emphasis added)
Before this council, Paul’s credibility had been attacked and he was feeling less than certain about the message he’d been given to spread among the Gentiles. After meeting with James, Peter, John, and a few other key leaders, Paul’s calling was validated. They were able to “[perceive] the grace given to [Paul]” and affirm his ministry (Galatians 2:9). This is the quintessence of healthy accountability within the body of Christ.
We also need to be sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. There may be parts of our stories we’re still processing or may not fully understand. By being sensitive to the Holy Spirit as we look at our own stories, we can embrace His healing and insight. He will guide us into a deeper understanding of the purposes behind different chapters in our lives.
As you begin to tell your story, be open to feedback from friends who are walking with the Lord. Give them the freedom to help you edit your story in such a way that it is clear and points to Jesus. Allow the Holy Spirit within you to give you wisdom to speak truth through your story. And from there, keep practicing, because your opportunity to share is just around the corner!