My name is Kathy Vohs, and I’m a graduate of Southern Evangelical Seminary (MA – Apologetics). I will be speaking at the National Conference on Christian Apologetics in Charlotte, NC on Oct. 13-15, 2016. My topic is “How to Get Through When They Don’t Want to Listen.”
In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter admonishes us to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” We may think that it is critical for us to have “the answer,” and we may spend a lot of effort reading and studying in order to be prepared. But Peter makes it clear that our attitude is as important as the propriety of our words. What happens to our hearer when gentleness or respect is missing from our message?
Of course we always intend to be gracious and respectful to the people we talk with. But what happens to your good intentions to be gentle when the person you are talking to starts to argue with you, heatedly? Do you argue back? Do you run away? Is there a third choice?
What about when you have discussions about God with unsaved family members? Would you describe them as conversations where both sides listen intently, value the other’s opinion, and respond with gentleness and respect?
When we become adversarial with someone who disagrees with us, we can cause our hearers to shut their ears to anything we have to say. Our attitude can quickly negate all of our efforts and burn the bridge we are seeking to build.
So in this session, let’s take a walk on the wild side of respect and disrespect.
What does it feel like to have your opinions listened to with great interest? How likely are you to listen when someone listens to you? Contrarily, how do you feel when someone discounts, ignores, or laughs at your opinions? Do you care what others have to say after they have discounted you?
Whether we like it or not, gentleness and respect is the on/off switch for being listened to. Genuine gentleness and respect is what will build those bridges of communication that you can then use to share the reason for the hope that you have. It is never too late, even if you have burnt the previous bridge to ash.