Has being a Christian caused conflict with those you love? Have you lost the ability to relate to others who are not like you? One of the greatest skills we can possess as a Christian is the ability to create rapport with those who are not like us. As Christians we would be wise to develop the skill of diplomacy, especially so we can be heard in our current world climate where things are moving greatly away from any form of traditionalism or moral value.
Paul, the New Testament evangelist was one of the greatest diplomats of all time. He knew how to relate to others in a way to win them over to Christ. Take for example the time Paul speaks to the leaders of Athens in the book of Acts chapter 17 verses 22-25.
“So Paul stood in the middle of the leadership council and said, ‘Respected leaders of Athens, it is clear to me how extravagant you are in your worship of idols. For as I walked through your city, I was captivated by the many shrines and objects of your worship. I even found an inscription on one altar that read, ‘To the Unknown God.’ I have come to introduce to you this God whom you worship without even knowing anything about him. The true God is the Creator of all things. He is the owner and Lord of the heavenly realm and the earthly realm, and he doesn’t live in man-made temples. He supplies life and breath and all things to every living being. He doesn’t lack a thing that we mortals could supply for him, for he has all things and everything he needs.'”Acts 17:22-25 TPT
Paul’s spirit was deeply troubled by the many idols he saw, (Acts 17:16) yet he knew how to have self-control and not let his emotions ruin his opportunity for ministry. He even compliments these pagan leaders first by calling them “respected leaders.”
How many of us would be able to have this self-control to first compliment? Would you have the skill to create common ground and keep your focus set on the purpose of leading those you are troubled with to Christ?
Paul does so by looking for opportunities to create this common ground. He notices the altar with the inscription “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.” He realizes the Greeks in their ignorance, had erected an altar to whatever god they might have inadvertently left out of their pantheon. Paul masterfully uses this altar as an opportunity to share the one true God. Paul then explains that this “unknown god” is the Creator of heaven and earth, who does not dwell in temples made with hands. He goes on to tell them this God is the Source of all life and calls all men to repent and accept Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead and will judge the world in righteousness.
This was a great opportunity that many of us would have missed because instead of relating and creating common ground, we would have argued and exclaimed that “our God is nothing like yours.” Operating in this way damages our opportunity to witness to those who believe differently than us, thus forfeiting our chance to bring them to the Lord.
Instead, Paul relates to these pagans brilliantly! He even goes on in verse 28 to again create commonality by saying, “just as your own poets have said, ‘Our lineage comes from him.’”
If we could adapt diplomatically like Paul did and stand on common ground, we would bring more people to the Lord, even our lost loved ones! What common ground can you stand on with your loved ones?
I remember a time when my daughter was not walking with the Lord, in fact she professed atheism at the time. I stood on common ground with her, not forcing her to believe anything. Instead, we talked about cooking and recipes, I took an interest in what was going on in her life. I took my battle to prayer and continued to find ways of relating to her until the opportunity presented itself for us to go on a women’s retreat together. Slowly but surely, she came back fully to the Lord. She is now an on-fire Christian who is married to a wonderful Christian man and is a great mother to my three grandkids.
Often, we push those we love away from the Lord because of our need to have others become like us, instead of encouraging and blessing them into becoming who God created them to be with our words.
“And never let ugly or hateful words come from your mouth, but instead let your words become beautiful gifts that encourage others; do this by speaking words of grace to help them.”Ephesians 4:29 TPT
Let us become the disciple we were meant to be by becoming a servant to all, as Paul teaches us:
“Now, even though I am free from obligations to others, I joyfully make myself a servant to all in order to win as many converts as possible. I became Jewish to the Jewish people in order to win them to the Messiah. I became like one under the law to gain the people who were stuck under the law, even though I myself am not under the law. And to those who are without the Jewish laws, I became like them, as one without the Jewish laws, in order to win them, although I’m not outside the law of God but under the law of Christ. I became “weak” to the weak to win the weak. I have adapted to the culture of every place I’ve gone so that I could more easily win people to Christ. I’ve done all this so that I would become God’s partner for the sake of the gospel.”1 Corinthians 9:19-23 TPT
Paul gives us a great example of what it is like to demonstrate commonality with others as we become the disciple we were meant to be, thus winning many over to Christ. By connecting with others, we are signaling to them that we care and understand them. Rapport is what will hold the relationship together like glue, even when there is conflict in important things like religion and/or politics.
The most important purpose of rapport is to lead and persuade others to take good actions that will improve their lives. As we become diplomatic and build rapport, trust is gained, thus raising our odds of leading others to Jesus Christ.
La Vonne Earl is the author of A Coach for Christ and is the director of YKI coaching, a Christian Life Coach Ministry. La Vonne trains and equips Christians to become the disciple they were meant to be. In her Certified Christ Centered Coach Training you will gain the skills necessary to bring others to Jesus Christ.
For all TPT family La Vonne is offering a discount off training. Visit www.YKIcoaching.com/coachtraining, and enter the code FRIENDSANDFAMILY