Friday, July 23, 2010

Don't Disparage Comments

Occasionally people will make comments in your class or Bible study time that, well, aren't the best. They may be factually wrong. They may be lacking in tact or good taste. They may words that tear others down or emphasize "us vs. them" with pride.

But you as the teacher NEVER should disparage or belittle someone based on their comments.

First off, if you want people to comment or speak up, you can't throw cold water on them. Or leave Scott with an impression that you'll blast them like you did last week to Susie and Bob. Warm, loving responses -- even when correction is involved -- keep people engaged. Unengaged people aren't learning, or applying what they learn.

Second, you do need to responsibly correct factual errors. Sometimes it's helpful to ask "Can you support that from Scripture?" as a way of helping people back to biblical truth. You don't have to say "WRONG, Dunderhead!" to help people understand that their position isn't biblical.

The most difficult situations are when someone is factually correct but expresses it in an unhelpful way. One approach that works for me is to say, "May I challenge you a little on that? What I hear you saying is _______. Considering our responsibilities to build others up and love even the unlovely, in the power of the Holy Spirit, what if you were to say _________ instead?" See how I make that a question? That really helps minimize their tendency to become defensive and angry.

Lecturing is the easy route for teachers, but it rarely is effective at teaching to change lives. Engaging people in dialogue is more difficult, but exponentially more rewarding for everyone. Ask the Lord to grant you wisdom as you teach and interact with others.

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