A basic principle of advertising in any form – whether in print, on TV, radio, billboards, in movie theaters, or online – is the value of repetition. The more times people read or hear something, the more likely the message is to make an impression; hopefully one that prompts them to purchase the product or service.
During my time in the newspaper business, I served as a publisher for about a year. I’d occasionally talk with advertisers who complained because they’d received little response from the ad that had appeared just one time. “You have to run your ad more than once,” I’d explain. “It might take several exposures before people will notice it and decide to be your customers.”
This principle also seems applicable to spirituality, whether for people being drawn to Jesus Christ or believers growing in their faith. Usually it requires hearing something more than once before it sinks in and we start to act on it.
Writing to Christ followers in the city of Philippi, the apostle Paul wrote, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice” (Philippians 4:9). Apparently, these people had numerous opportunities to hear from Paul and observe how his life aligned with what he preached. They were learning via the power of repetition.
This should serve as motivation for us to eagerly share with others what God has taught us over time, whether we’re speaking to believers, seekers, or even apparently ardent non-believers.
Reflecting over my own spiritual journey, I realize it was a long, cumulative process of being presented with biblical truth, meditating over it, and eventually resolving to implement it into my life. I can remember hearing many stories about Jesus as a boy, and reading the Bible as a young adult, but not until my early 30’s did I start understanding how to relate this to my life.
Recently I had an opportunity to converse with a young man about his education and career plans. His chosen field of endeavor is known for its antagonism toward Christian beliefs, but I commended him for his desire to serve as salt and light in such a challenging environment.
As we talked, I offered some insights I had gained over the years, offering words of caution and a reminder of the importance to commit to God whatever we intend to do. For instance, I cited my life verses, Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight,” giving examples of how this passage has proved meaningful for my own life.
My goal wasn’t to persuade him to do exactly what I said, but to plant some seeds of biblical truth. This might have been the only time I’ll see this young man face to face, and was hoping to impart some wisdom I’ve acquired that might be useful for him in the future.
I have a friend who drives for a ride-sharing service and prays every day for opportunities to talk with his passengers about the Lord. In his affable, non-intrusive manner, he’s started numerous conversations by talking briefly about how God has worked in his life. His goal isn’t to “close the deal” evangelistically, but to demonstrate the love of Christ to people whoever they are and wherever they happen to be spiritually.
His hope is that God will use what he says either to move them closer to a life-changing relationship with Jesus, or to help them deepen in their day-to-day walk with Him. My friend realizes he might never cross paths with many of these people again, so he’s intent on “making the most of the opportunity” (Colossians 4:5).
Without question, we need to use wisdom whenever we speak with others about Jesus Christ. Especially strangers. Ephesians 4:15 says we’re to be “speaking the truth in love,” engaging with others out of genuine interest and concern, wanting to share with them the best news we could ever hear.