WHEN a person speaks with conviction, others see that he firmly believes what he is saying. Such conviction was evident in the apostle Paul’s ministry. To those who became believers in Thessalonica, he wrote: “The good news we preach did not turn up among you with speech alone but also with . . . strong conviction.” (1 Thess. 1:5) That conviction was evident both in the manner that he spoke and in the way that he lived. Strong conviction should also be evident in the way that we present Bible truths.
Expressing conviction is not the same as being opinionated, dogmatic, or arrogant. Rather, when a person who manifests conviction speaks about the things in God’s Word, he does so in a manner that shows strong faith.—Heb. 11:1.
Occasions for Expressing Conviction. It is important to speak with conviction when you are in the field ministry. Often people notice your manner as much as your message. They sense how you really feel about what you say. Your conviction can convey, more powerfully than words alone, that you have something of great value to share.
There is also a need to express conviction when addressing an audience of fellow believers. The apostle Peter wrote his first inspired letter “to give encouragement and an earnest witness that this is the true undeserved kindness of God.” In this, he urged the brothers: “Stand firm.” (1 Pet. 5:12) When writing to the congregation in Rome, the apostle Paul expressed conviction that benefited them. He wrote: “I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38, 39) Paul also wrote persuasively regarding the necessity of preaching to others, and his own zeal in that activity gave clear evidence that he was personally convinced of its importance. (Acts 20:18-21; Rom. 10:9, 13-15) Similar conviction should be evident on the part of Christian elders today as they teach from God’s Word.
During study periods and at other times, parents need to express themselves with conviction when discussing spiritual matters with their children. This requires that parents cultivate love for God and his ways in their own hearts. Then they can speak with heartfelt conviction to their children, ‘for out of the heart’s abundance the mouth speaks.’ (Luke 6:45; Deut. 6:5-7) Having such conviction will also motivate parents to set an example of ‘faith without hypocrisy.’—2 Tim. 1:5.
It is especially important to express yourself with conviction when your faith is challenged. A schoolmate, a teacher, or a workmate may express surprise that you do not join in a certain celebration. A resolute, well-reasoned answer may help him to respect your Bible-based position. What if someone tries to entice you into wrong conduct—dishonesty, misuse of drugs, or sexual immorality? It is important to make clear that you will definitely not engage in such conduct and that no efforts at persuasion will cause you to change your mind. This requires that you speak with conviction when rejecting the proposition. When resisting the immoral advances of Potiphar’s wife, Joseph firmly stated: “How could I commit this great badness and actually sin against God?” When she persisted, he fled from the house.—Gen. 39:9, 12.
How Conviction Is Manifested. The words that you use can do much to convey your conviction. On numerous occasions Jesus prefaced important statements by saying: “Most truly I say to you.” (John 3:3, 5, 11; 5:19, 24, 25) Paul’s conviction was reflected in such expressions as “I am convinced,” “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus,” and “I am telling the truth, I am not lying.” (Rom. 8:38; 14:14; 1 Tim. 2:7) Regarding the fulfillment of his word, Jehovah at times inspired his prophets to make emphatic statements, such as, “It will without fail come true.” (Hab. 2:3) When you refer to these prophecies, you might use similar language. If you put confidence not in yourself but in Jehovah and if you speak to others in a respectful manner, expressions that reflect similar conviction will give evidence that you have strong faith.
Conviction may also be shown by the earnestness and the intensity of your expression. Your facial expressions, your gestures, and your body language all contribute to this, though these may vary somewhat from person to person. Even if you are shy or soft-spoken by nature, when you are fully persuaded that what you are saying is the truth and that others need to hear it, your conviction will be evident.
Of course, any expressions of conviction that we make must be genuine. If people sense that we are pretending rather than speaking from the heart, they will likely conclude that our message lacks substance. Therefore, above all, be yourself. Depending on the size of your audience, you may need to speak with greater volume than usual and with more intensity. But your aim should be to express yourself sincerely and naturally.
Aids to Expressing Conviction. Since your conviction involves your feelings about your material, good preparation is the key. Simply copying material from a publication and then reciting it are not sufficient. You need to understand the material clearly and to be able to express it in your own words. You must be fully convinced that it is true and that what you are saying is of value to your audience. This means that when preparing your presentation, you take into account their circumstances as well as what they may already know about the subject or how they may feel about it.
It is easier for others to sense our conviction when our delivery is fluent. Therefore, in addition to preparing good material, work hard on your delivery. Give special attention to the portions of your material that call for greater earnestness so that you can deliver them without being tied to your notes. Remember, too, to pray for Jehovah’s blessing on your efforts. In this way you will ‘muster up boldness by means of our God’ to speak in a manner that reflects your conviction as to the truthfulness and importance of your message.—1 Thess. 2:2.