What are we doing, or not doing, that leaves our neighbours uninterested in our faith? Looking at myself, I recognize that I come from a family of opinionated and argumentative people. Some people enjoy a good argument, but it’s not the best way to share the gospel. A whole lot of people are wary of any conversation that threatens to turn into an argument.
Dale Carnegie’s most famous statement was: “You can make more friends in two months by being interested in them, than in two years by making them interested in you.” Some people accused him of being manipulative. Carnegie’s advice can be used in a manipulative way, but being interested in others is not a bad thing.
Can we apply that thought to the way we share the gospel? Isn’t loving our neighbours as ourselves one of the foundations of Christianity? I need to learn to be a better listener. How do I do that? Here are a few thoughts that have come to me.
• Ask questions that invite them to talk about themselves.
• Let the other person do most of the talking.
• Don’t find fault, but try to understand their point of view.
• Respect their opinions; even if we don’t agree, our goal is not to condemn them for things they honestly believe.
• Suggest a better way of seeing things in a way that appeals to their noble instincts.
• Tell our own struggles and experiences when they seem relevant.
• Listen to the other person and to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
• Be patient, let our attitude reveal a settled faith, rooted and grounded in the solid rock.
• Admit it when we make a mistake, or don’t know the answer to aquestion.
• Make the other person feel respected and valued.