Tactics Chapter 6: Perfecting Columbo
by David Stoecker*
So you are wanting to be able to defend your faith rationally and well, right? When you have tried that in the past you have probably noticed that it is hard to be successful in discussions that you have had. You tend to be unable to do anything that you are unprepared for. If you are faced with new problems you generally have trouble coming up with well thought out solutions on the fly. The reason for that is simple. It takes time and practice to develop any new skill, let alone perfect it.
At first, you will not be able to come up with responses rapidly. Due to that there are 3 specific things that you can do to better prepare yourself:
- Anticipate in advance what could come up in conversations
- Reflect after the discussion on what took place
- Practice the different responses that you are able to think of when you reflect to better prepare you for the next time
Anticipate ways that the conversations you might get into could go. Look at common themes and/or questions that people tend to ask or use. You will want to look up information on the questions that you have had issues with in the past. The you can come up with several good responses for each of those scenarios. Give yourself several different ways to insure you are in the driver’s seat when you have future conversations.
Reflect on each conversation after it happens. Make sure to ask yourself several questions each time. Could I have asked better questions? Could I have steered the conversation in a more beneficial direction? Did I plant a decent sized rock in their shoe? Where did I make mistakes? What could I have done differently? Did I represent myself as a good ambassador for Christ? Do I need to learn more about the topic we discussed? Did I act with enough kindness and grace?
Practice the new information that you find and ideas that you come up with out loud. If you can think of things that someone might possibly use to combat what you say, practice what you will say back. And do it out loud. Work on repeating comebacks, and if you have a friend to help you can even role play the conversations. Remember, do it out loud and often. If you want to get better at anything, the only way is to rehearse it and practice, practice, practice.
There are two things that must happen in order to meet a challenge. You must be prepared and then take action. Preparation gives you the confidence you need, but only through interaction with others will you truly be able to improve your abilities to the level they should be for you to truly be an ambassador for Christ.
Occasionally you may run into someone who tries to use the Columbo on you. Always remember that you control your side of the discussion. If they are asking leading questions, don’t answer them. Ask them why they are using questions to explain their points. Let them know that you want to know their views.
Sometimes you may also be asked a question that is not a question and you must always be prepared for it. It will sound like, "What gives you the right to …..?" or "Who are you to say?" If this happens, let them know that you are confused by the questions. "I get the impression that you think that I’ve made a mistake. Where did I go wrong?" That, or you can ask them to clarify their question so that you can understand it.
Today we took a look at what we have discussed in the earlier blogs as well as how we can begin to get better and prepare ourselves to be not only ambassadors for Christ, but apologists. This is done by remembering 3 words: anticipate, reflect and practice. Join me next week when we begin the second section of the Tactics and start learning how to find the flaws in others arguments.
*Written for TPE by David Stoecker of Spiritual Spackle.
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