The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly. — Proverbs 15:2
When my kids were teenagers, they were just as rotten as anyone else’s. While they almost were never disrespectful to their parents, they did tend to get in trouble in other ways. And because of their ages, spankings had pretty much been replaced with groundings and writing lines….and lectures. Lots and lots of lectures. My husband gets wound up, and depending on the level of danger in the infraction, he can lecture for hours.
I remember one evening telling him that when he sees the “doe in the headlights” look on their faces, they’ve
basically checked out. Long lectures are wasted on them. It didn’t matter, though. He couldn’t help himself.
After the lectures, when a little bit of time had passed, I would collect the little rule-breaker, and we’d sit and talk about the incident. Instead of a lecture, we’d have a conversation. And 9 times out of 10, the child would take our talks to heart, and behaviors would change, even if only fractionally.
As they were getting older, I instituted an “Off the Record” rule. This was something my own Mom did for me that encouraged openness and honesty. No matter what I told her I did, there could be no punishment. The conversation was off the record. I believe I only used the rule once growing up, but my own kids used it quite a bit more when they were growing up. You see, I wasn’t sure I could really trust Mom to actually not kill me for some of the dumb things I did.
But my children trusted that if something was off the record, it would stay off the record. Because of open and honest communication, empathy on both sides, compassion, and gentleness, the bonds that my children and I have are stronger than any other I’ve ever had, with the exception of my husband. (That relationship is based on the same things…:-)).
How you approach people and how you handle your words are very important. I don’t respond to people talking at me instead of to me. Lately, I’ve been approached by a few Christians who want to lead me to the Lord. Even when I tell them I am saved, it seems they didn’t hear me at all, and continue with the lecture as if I hadn’t spoke at all. I don’t think too much of it, and I always tend to let them finish….it’s good practice, I guess. But I worry that if you are approaching an un-saved person with this lecture, it could potentially drive them away.
A person who is good at evangelizing is probably a good listener as well. You can’t make a connection with another person unless you hear what they are saying and respond accordingly. You aren’t going to lead people to the Lord by shoving a tract in their face and talking over them. Humans are individuals, and we like to be treated as such. Compassion, mercy, respect and empathy…these are all needed in order to forge a foundation for a conversation about God. What we need here is more conversations, and less lectures.