By Paul Wilkinson

In light of last week’s post about “how” to give a brief testimony and the power in our Christian testimony, I thought it would be good form to share my testimony with you. As someone who grew up in church and never suffered a crisis leading to faith, I always thought my testimony was subpar. I did have crises in my life, but they were generally external to me and were not the genesis of my faith.
What I learned, however, is that a testimony singing praises about God’s guiding hand, God’s security in the face of rebelliousness, God’s patience, and God’s providence can be quite powerful for an individual seeking just such a relationship. Remember our framework: who was I before Christ, how did I get saved, and who am I after Christ. I would also recommend giving a Gospel invitation.
Who was I before Christ?

Though I always wanted to be a pastor at some point in my life, I desired to fulfill what I thought were more pressing needs. I was generally a good kid, though I sought attention through humor at the expense of other virtues. I did fairly well in school, both high school and college, but I was a lethargic, perennial underachiever. And yet, even as an underachiever, I was able to get the things I wanted. Granted, what I wanted was not elaborate: a large TV, a proper stereo system for my car, etc., but it was what I expected to make me happy. Even with desiring to drop out of college each semester, I managed to limp my way to a chemical engineering degree which procured a job that paid fairly well for one’s initial employment.
Yet, with all my stuff and my job, I was miserable. I began to hate the money and hate the stuff. I came to the realization that not only was I an underachiever in the classroom, but I was an underachiever in life. I despised my bi-weekly pay check and gave most of it away. However, it wasn’t until I was willing to give myself away that I gained what I had been missing.
How did I become a Christian?

Though I was “saved” and baptized at age 8, I’m not entirely sure I understood what that meant. I certainly wanted to avoid Hell, but I did not fully grasp why believing in Jesus accomplished that end. So, 15 years later, at the age of 23, I came to realize what being a Christian entailed. Because of my misery in my achievements, I decided to take the opposite approach. I decided to flee what I had attained. I put in my two weeks’ notice and headed to Jamaica to do mission work and teach math and science to 4th and 5th graders. While I may have been redeemed at age 8, it wasn’t until age 23 that I became committed. From Jamaica, I applied to seminary and began classes the following fall semester.
How am I different now?

After making a full commitment to Christ, I am now able to live each day fulfilled. I now invest in the lives of other people to see them become more than the underachiever I was. When I mentioned that I was an underachiever earlier, it was not because I was unsuccessful. I consider my former self to be an underachiever because I was denying my calling. I was called to be a discipleship minister, to nurture the body of Christ to maturity, and to seek the lost wherever I was. For some, their calling is precisely to be a chemical engineer and keep the processes upon which society is so dependent functioning at highest efficiency. And in their workplace, they are the minister and shepherd to their colleagues.
What my life shows is that God has a special calling for which He designed each of us. And no matter how lethargic, how rebellious, or how underachieving we are, God will wait for us. God wants us to reach our maximal potential which is only found in proper relationship to Him. Then, we can live our lives in fullness. What I wanted didn’t fulfill me and now saddens me. The One I rejected is the One in whom I now find complete contentment, motivation, and joy. That significance is available to anyone who will respond obediently to God’s call.