Thursday, November 17, 2016

Take Away Their Argument

Have you ever started a conversation about life and philosophy and it becomes apparent the other person is not listening? They seem to "talk through" or "talk around" your ideas, rather than thoughtfully considering them? I'm sure you have. The good news is, there are fantastic ways to steer a conversation back to the original topic.

Take away their argument.

Stimulating The Thought Process

We have described techniques such as staying on topic, setting the premise, asking questions, and others that are available for review at ITCZ 101. We use these techniques for clarity and to keep ourselves thinking through a complex conversion. Equally important, we are helping others to engage their thinking and remain thoughtful as well.

Another technique to add to our arsenal is to take away their argument. So, what does that mean? The idea is to grant the other person a point that is true, yet it is irrelevant to the point you are making.

In philosophical discussions we can quickly find ourselves down rabbit trails that may shed some light on what we want to express. Unfortunately, many times we get so far down those rabbit trails we are clearly off point. Let's head that off before we get there.

The Purpose

The purpose of taking away someone's argument is to take the focus off of what is irrelevant, so that the conversation can move forward with that which IS relevant. It is to reduce confusion. It is also extremely helpful for staying on topic and helping everyone involved remain thinking, rather than reacting.

He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him. - Proverbs 18:13 NKJV

It's difficult to predict when you will be able to use this technique. Just being aware of the technique could prove to be helpful. You will certainly find it valuable when delivering the Gospel.

He who is wise wins souls. - Proverbs 11:30 NASB

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Rethink It: Repentance Revisited

Let's rethink repentance. Clarifying terms is a great tool for improving communication. It allows us to not only look closely at a word or phrase but also let's us come at it from many angles. Let's define and simplify the word, repent/repentance.

Those who repent will be revived by righteousness.

Repentance can be mistaken for sorrow or penance but that's not what it is. Repentance is not sorrow. Will sorrow lead you to repent? Sure it does. Yet it is a separate process.

Repenting is commonly understood, as to turn away from sin. When we dig a little deeper we find that repentance is specifically to change your mind.

It's that easy. When we fall into sin our Father tells us to change our mind about the sin we commited. Sin produces death and due to our new nature, we have a way to recover from it. We have the superpower to change our mind about following our old nature and set our thought process to think like the new person we are. We choose to think like Jesus thinks.

Our thinking process is where God is directly working in us.

Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. - Romans 12:2 NLT

As a Christian repentance is the tool that helps us out of sin. The next step is to turn to God and have faith in Him and His ways.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Not Looking For Agreement

Can you remember an argument you had where a person you were trying to correct refused to agree that they had done the thing you said they did? Even though there was no disputing the details?

I have. In one particular encounter, when it happened, it took me by surprise. So much so, the entire encounter changed the way I think. Here's why: It didn't matter how clear the situation was, he was not going to agree that he had done anything wrong. Then the unexpected happened!

Gently instruct those who oppose the truth.

Let's do this in story format for fun. The names and some details have been changed to protect... everybody! :-)

Jack And Tom

Jack was the manager of our team. One day a member, we'll call him Tom, was in a tough situation with a client where it was appropriate to refuse our services. It was a common practice to refuse service under these particular conditions. However, when Jack came over to back Tom, he put Tom in a terrible position.

Instead of confirming the denial of service, he assisted the client with their request and enforced their bad behavior. After Jack left, the client even began to mock Tom directly to his face. All Tom could do was endure the humiliation.

Jack, the manager, wasn't there for the mocking that Tom was forced to endure. To make matters worse, there were questionable legal factors to offering our services under the odd conditions as well. There were others on the team that witnessed Jack reversing the correct decision of Tom and now there was confusion as to when we could or couldn't offer our services.

This was a serious problem as a bad decision in these matters could put the business in jeopardy for breaking the law.


An Encounter With Jack

I approached Jack after the incident and indicated to him that what he had done was illegal and also confused the other team members on how to deal with this type of client request. I recommended that he apologize to Tom in front of the entire team and enforce the correct decision making in this type of situation.

It was unclear to me what kind of response I was going to get and I ended up with one I didn't anticipate at all.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Set The Premise

It is appropriate that we are ready to answer questions from Believers and non-believers. However we do not need to accept the premise of a question.

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. - 1 Peter 3:15 NLT

Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.

Here is a fantastic definition of what a premise is:

A premise is the assumption of an argument that is meant to justify the conclusion the one making the argument is hoping you’ll come to. If one fails to establish the premise to his argument, one almost always fails to convince others of his conclusion. On the other hand, if one establishes a premise one will more than likely get others to agree with his conclusion. - from the article, "Never Accept the Premise of Your Opponent’s Argument" by Steve Deace, Townhall.com

We want to do what Jesus did and change or correct the premise of questions we get asked, to what should have been asked to lead to salvation. Jesus did this many times. Let's become expert in delivering the gospel and become expert in rephrasing questions about life and give context to a topic so the truth can be established.

The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand. - Psalm 119:130 NLT

The premise in the questions we use to deliver the Gospel or teach the scriptures, should speak toward salvation and understanding the Lord. They should steer away from conversations that devolve into confusion.

This is an integral tool to delivering the gospel at every opportunity and creating an opportunities where it may not seem to exist.

The Antidote

There is far more that is assumed in a question than we may think. In an honest effort to create the appropriate context of seeking the truth and to bring understanding to a topic, we will always want to set the premise. In many cases we will need to reset the premise by presenting a new question.