Have you ever found yourself in a situation where others were questioning your beliefs? Unfortunately, these situations are prone to get heated and contentious. When something we love is being attacked, we want to rise up in defense of it. How can we defend our beliefs without getting defensive and angry? These five ideas will help us share our testimonies while keeping the spirit of Christ with us.
Try to See Other As Friends, Not Enemies
Whether we mean to or not, we can hastily judge those who have differing and even antagonistic viewpoints. We dehumanize them. We no longer see them as reasonable human beings who are striving to do good—they become enemies with ulterior motives.
While there will be cases of outright opposition, most of the people we meet in our day-to-day lives should be viewed as potential friends, rather than enemies. By doing so, we invite a spirit of charity and grace into our conversations.
Begin By Listening With Empathy
No one likes to feel dismissed or scoffed at. If someone feels heard, they’re more likely to stay calm and receptive. We can bridge a lot of divides by seeking to understand someone’s point of view. Instead of thinking about your reply, focus on what the other person is saying. Ask questions to confirm you understand what they’re saying. When possible, make mention of things you have in common.
Stick to Simple, Doctrinal Truths
In an effort to strengthen our points, we often want to use heated or emotional arguments that are more likely offense-driven than defense-driven. Simple statements of truth and testimony are the most effective. When appropriate, short explanations about personal experiences can also help others understand what you’ve gone through and how your belief system relates to it.
Admit When You Don’t Have the Answer
If you don’t feel equipped to answer a question, be humble and admit it. However, state that you know God provides answers and clarity and you’d love to continue the conversation when you have more information. If so inspired, consider pointing someone to a relevant Church website or your local missionaries.
Focus on Connection, Not Conversion
The arguments we have these days are often focused on converting other people to our way of thinking. We want to convince people to feel the way we do. Most people don’t change their minds after one conversation. Instead, focus on making connections. Let the other person know you want to understand them better and you want them to understand you.