How NOT to Witness – Part 4
I’m sorry if I’ve been silent for a few days but I am away from home visiting relatives. I do hope that I can find some time to blog this week as being in another state, having traveled from a “red” state to a “blue” one, gives me a different perspective on things.
Today I wanted to share some pointers from my extensive experience in blowing witness opportunities in the hopes that you don’t become as inept at it as I have been. My “how not to” tip for today is –
Avoid convergence of different ideas in your presentation.
Put another way, avoid doing comparisons or analogies. Sometimes we do this on purpose. You can say something like “abortion is murder” and, however passionate you are, you have just accused the other person of murder, or at least condoning it. This rarely results in a pleasant conversation, let alone a changed mind. It also raises questions like “Should we then execute anyone who has an abortion?” that are somewhat awkward to deal with.
But more often ideas converge by accident. There was a good example in the news last week when a well-known evangelical pastor was giving a sermon on marriage relationships. As he prepared to explain his view of gender roles in marriage he actually started off pretty well. The quote:
“Number one, [what I am saying] does not mean the wife is less valuable, intelligent or competent. Both men and women bear equally the image and likeness of God. They have equal dignity and value. In addition [my belief] doesn’t mean men are more important than women. That’s not true.”
OK, that is a good start as he prepares to make his point.
“A wife sets a pattern for others to respect her husband. If the wife disrespects the husband in front of his coworkers, will they respect the husband? No. No. Women who publicly disrespect their husbands encourage others to disrespect their husbands.”
At this stage of the game he has still not erred. You may not like what he is saying; you may feel as I do that the statement he makes should apply equally to wives and husbands but his argument is realistic and open for discussion. But he goes on.
“And this doesn’t mean you don’t disagree with your husband but you do so privately.”
Uh-oh. Do you see what he has done? He has converged disrespecting and disagreeing. He has jumped the argument. He has made having a different opinion than your husband in a public setting equal to disrespect. A person who might have been prepared to discuss the concept of disrespect and how it can be shown properly has now been handed a definition he or she may not agree with.
I don’t mean to pick on this man. I surely hope the convergence was accidental because I can’t see how someone can have “equal value” when they have to shut up when they think the other one is wrong. But I am sure that is not what he is saying. Or at least pretty sure.
In any event, when we are taking our witness from point A to point B we need to make sure the one we are reaching is ready to make the trip.