HOW TO ARGUE

Worship leaders don't know how to argue.

I don't know why, but there's something in us that makes tough conversations difficult. We're prone to get angry and stressed, which can often lead to drawing hard relational lines among the people who are "on our side" and those who aren't.

I believe in truth. I also believe that conversations with people we trust is one of the many ways God uses to teach us. But I'm going to be honest here. When I'm in a tough conversation with a fellow pastor, worship leader or Christ-follower, getting-to-the-truth or "winning" is secondary. When I'm in a hard talk, my primary goal is to grow closer to that other believer. I'm much more concerned with getting to know and love that person more. I love it when a conversation leads to truth, but sometimes they don't. But I do believe every conversation can make us better partners in ministry and friends.

But it's difficult. I want to get better at it, and I bet you do, too. I've found that one way to make these conversations easier is to adopt some practical dialogue tips. These aren't philosophical arguments. They're not logic techniques. They're just simple things you can say that aren't combative and will keep the conversation going. They may seem simple, but I'm surprised at how often I forget to use these in a tough spot.

"INTERESTING" or "HMMM"

Sooner or later, you're gonna' be in a talk when the other person is saying something you absolutely do not agree with. Left to your own devices, you might be prone to immediately begin planning your rebuttal or even interrupt with some sort of "I don't believe that" or "that's not what the Bible says."

Using "interesting" or "hmmm" will drastically lower the tension level in your body and will foster conversation. There's nothing wrong with disagreeing (see below) but you want to find a ways to keep the tension at a minimum. Interrupting and using combative phrases will also put your friend on his or her heels. Conversations just work better when folks aren't running defense.

HEADS UP

There's no way to know what the other person is thinking and feeling in conversation. But it's safe to assume that catching them off guard might not benefit the dialogue. When you're ready to respond (or even disagree) it's helpful to give the person a heads up that you've got a rebuttal of some kind.

One of the best ways to do this is to just say it. Taking an extra three seconds to say, "I hear what you're saying, but I'm gonna' push back for a second" or "okay, but let me tell you where I'm coming from." That may not seem like much, but it's soooo much better than just a blatant here's-why-you're-wrong.

THANK GOD

Even if a conversation doesn't end in agreement, an attitude of gratefulness makes a huge impact. Reminding your friend - and yourself - of God's goodness can be a powerful way to keep your dialogue enjoyable and Godly. I'm serious! Why not just tell the person, "Gosh, I'm so glad God's got you in my life. Talks like this are good for me."

This is also helpful if you're not handling things well. If you're mad or confused or worried by the conversation, why not stop and pray? I can't think of a better way to get a talk back on point!