But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (I Peter 3:14-16)
I realize that for many college ministers, getting your students to have a zeal for evangelism is still the challenge, not “tempering” or “instructing” their zeal.
But it’s likely that you’ll always have some wide-eyed, Jesus-following students who have grasped Christ and, even moreso, been grasped by Him – leading them to share with others.
And in some college ministries, this type of student may feel like more of the “rule” than the “exception.” Which is exciting, of course.
But as students have this zeal, it’s our job to encourage them with the whole story, with the “gentleness” and “respect” requirements of Being a Great Witness. It’s all the more tempting to leave out these parts when we feel an evangelistic fervor has yet to take root… but as with anything, if we teach an overreaching legalism or zeal-without-wisdom as a cure to laziness, we haven’t done our students much good.