8. Winning people to your way of thinking (Part 1)

1.Avoid arguments 2. Show respect 3. Admit your wrong


Everybody sees the world through their own eyes.  The circumstances of our life, however color our vision.  For example, if you never worried about having enough food or a place to live, you will see the world differently from someone struggles to find food and be dry.  Both approach life from different sets of experiences.

   When we want people to see the world through our eyes, sometimes our view of the world gets in the way.  Other times, our lack of understanding the characteristics we prevent others from seeing our view, because we get in the way.

The most important thing we can offer an individual is our salvation.  We want people to see the world from our view.  People need to know they have eternity waiting for them, and this life has a direct correspondence to our eternity.

   The goal of every Christian should be to help those in the world, see the world from their view.  If lost people understood they are lost, they would want to be saved.  Let’s say you were driving down a road, and the bride is out ahead.  You don’t know the bridge is out, you think the road is fine, you have no reason to be concerned.  On the road, toward the bridge is somebody waving a sign warning drivers the bridge is out.  That person is trying to win people to his way of thinking, for their own benefit. 

   To keep the Gospel from the lost is to lock people out of heaven.  We should strive with all our hearts, to learn how to bring lost people around to our way of thinking. The Holy Spirit will use our desire and equip us to find those who are seeking the Lord.

   Learning how to win people to our way of thinking, is really learning how to get out of own way, so the lost can have a clear path to the Gospel.


1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.


         The word argument has both negative and positive reflections.  For many arguments are contentious affairs, causing a flurry of emotion for those involved.  In the end, both people loose because when emotion is involved in the discussion, very often there is little headway in convincing somebody.  Again, we need to ask our self, what is the goal, of our conversation with people.  Hopefully the end result is to influence people for eternity.

         Many people rejoice in arguing and contentions, for the sake of argument and being right.  Both in Romans and I Corinthians this form of argument is referred to:


29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,  Romans 1:29-30

20 For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; II Corinthians 12:20

 19 A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle. Proverbs 18:19

This type of arguing is for no reason, then to engage  someone in a verbal conflict.  This verbal fighting leads to nowhere but spent emotions, and hurt feelings.  Even when we know we are 100% right!, we need to ask, so how do we benefit?  How is the soul who looses any closer to knowing the Lord?   Our ultimate goal in talking and establishing relationships with people is their eternity.

         There are ways to discuss issues, without being contentious, arguing and offensive.  Paul, for example, ministered in Ephesus for 3-years.  He began his ministry by going to the Synagogue, reasoning and persuading, even though Paul spoke boldly, he did not go to fight and offend but present.


8 And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. 9 But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. 10 And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.  Acts 19:8-10

There are ways to present Gospel, with being offending those listening.  The words used here in the Greek are

dialevgomai Dialegomai for reasoning, and peivqw Peitho for persuading.  The word dialegomai is the source of our word dialogue, the word means to think different things with one’s self, to have a conversation.  Peitho, the word for persuade means to induce one by words to believe.   We need to learn how to monitor our discussion, not letting it become uneasy or contentious.


Where do you draw the line?


         Dale Carnegie uses several examples to illustrate the point, one where he personally learned when you draw a line for an argument. 


I was attending a banquet on night given in Sir Ross’s honor; and during the dinner, the man sitting next to me told a humorous story which hinged on the quotation “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will.”The raconteur mentioned that the quotation was from the Bible.  He was wrong.  I knew that. I knew it positively.  There couldn’t be the slightest doubt about it.  And so, to get a feeling of importance and display my superiority, I appointed myself as an unsolicited and unwelcome committee of one to correct him.  He stuck to his guns.  What?  From Shakespeare?  Impossible! Absurd! That quotation was from the Bible. And he knew it.The storyteller was sitting on my right; and Frank Gammond, an old friend of mine, was seated at my left.Mr. Gammond had devoted years to the study of Shakespeare.  So the storyteller and I agreed to submit the question to Mr. Gammond.  Mr. Gammond listened,  kicked me under the table, and then said: “Dale, you are wrong. The gentleman is right it is from the Bible”On the way home that night, I said to Mr. Gammond:  “Frank, you knew that quotation was from Shakespeare.”“Yes, of course,” he replied, “Hamlet, Act Five, Scene Two.  But we were guests at a festive occasion my dear Dale.  Why prove to a man he is wrong?  Is that going to make him like you?  Why not let him save his face?  He didn’t ask fo ryour opinion.  He didn’t want it. Why argue with him?[1]


         Even though Dale Carnegie was right, what could he have gained by winning?  He would have embarrassed the man, showing him he was ignorant of the Bible and he Dale was more knowledgeable.  The man would have been embarrassed, and felt small the rest of the night.  He would always remember, being corrected in the presence of others by Dale Carnegie.   There was no purpose in the argument, other to make Dale seem more significant.

         There are ways to have a disagreement without arguments, even though Paul disagreed with people in Ephesus, he was able to speak in the Synagogue for 3-months.  When the point came, where people were hardened and did not want to listen, Paul withdrew and continued teaching at the school of Tyrannus.   Paul’s goal was not to get people angry, but to present Jesus.  Now there are times, when presenting Jesus will make people angry, that comes with the territory of spiritual warfare.  We have the choice, on how heated the issue gets, do we want another opportunity to discuss the issue.

         One method which helps when a discussion starts to become emotional is to stop the discussion and acknowledge the level of emotion.  Saying something along these lines,  “Joe...listen I don’t mind talking about the this issue, I know you might not agree with me, and I might not agree with you...  If we can just both agree we will not get emotional and just stick with the facts and still be friends.   If we can’t,  I would just rather change subjects is that ok, Joe?”  This way, both parties are aware of the potential explosion, and the discussion can continue, as a dialogue and not contention.  Spiritual issues such as the Bible, Jesus, eternity can cause a great deal of heat.  We have some control, to the level which the heat rises, we can choose if we want contention or dialogue, argument or persuasion.



2. Show respect for the other persons opinions, never say “You are wrong”


         One aspect of human nature is the need to be right.  Even young children get in arguments over who is “right”.  Why?  Because being wrong, makes us less significant, inferior to the person who is right.  Being wrong can be humbling, while being right can be ego boosting.  Its like winning and loosing a game, no one likes to loose games, the same goes with being right and wrong. 

         When we make it our mission in life, to let people know where they are wrong, we can become an unlikable person to be around.  We can become like the fly in the ointment.  There are ways and methods of helping people find truth, without beating them with it.

         Benjamin Franklin found this out after a friend rebuked him for his confrontational personality of always letting people know they were wrong.  Dale Carnegie relays the quote from Franklin’s friend, who rebuked him.


Ben, you are impossible.  Your opinions have a slap in them for everyone who differs with you they have become so offensive that nobody cares for them.  Your friends find they enjoy themselves better when you are not around.  You know so much that no man can tell you anything.  Indeed, no man is going to try, for the effort would lead only to discomfort and hard work.  So you are not likely ever to know any more than you do now, which is very little[2]


This rebuke from a friend changed Franklin’s whole approach to those around him, resolved to never again tell people they were wrong directly.  Carnegie quotes Franklin about his transformation.


“I made it a rule,” said Franklin, “to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiment of others, and all positive assertion of my own. I even forbade myself the use of every word or expression in the language that imported a fix’d opinion, such as ‘certainly’, ‘undoubtedly’, etc,  and I adopted, instead of them, ‘I conceive,’ ‘I apprehend,’ or ‘I imagine’ a thing to be so and so, or it ‘it so appears to me at present.’  When another asserted something that I thought an error, I deny’d myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of showing some absurdity in his proposition; and in answering I began by observing in certain cases or circumstances his opinion would be right, but in the present case there appear’d or seem’d to me some difference, etc. [3]


         Ben Franklin’s ability to handle people made him our diplomat too Europe during the American Revolution.

Socrates like Ben Franklin learned there are other ways to influence people, rather then telling them they are wrong.  Socrates influenced Greece by asking questions, he wanted people to see for themselves by answering the questions. Today this form of questioning is known as the Socratic Method.  Socrates was so successful at asking questions he was forced to commit suicide.  He didn’t need to go around confronting people; he merely helped them see what he saw through question.

         Jesus describes the attitude we should have to people around us; we are to be reflections of our Heavenly Father.  We are not to be confrontational with the world, for the purpose of riling people.  Jesus approach to people was revolutionary.  He confronted our fallen nature, but instructing us to do the opposite of what our flesh wants to do.  For example, Roman solders could force people to walk a mile, to carry baggage or items, here Jesus says, if someone makes you walk one-mile, go with him two.    We are to be a blessing to those around us.


38 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' 39 "But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 "If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 "And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 "Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. 43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.  Matthew 5:38-48


         We are to reflect our Heavenly Father by our actions, God for example sends the rain and sun on those who hate Him.  He allows good things to happen to those who despise Him.  If that is the attitude for the Father in Heaven, then it should be our attitude.  Our life should set us apart from those around us.  Anybody can be good to those who are good to them.  The test is can we be good to those who are bad to us.

         Not saying your “Wrong”, does not mean you can’t disagree with people, but understanding there are better ways to disagree.  Ben Franklin did not stop disagreeing with people, he only approached it from a different angle.  He did not need to confront people with their “Wrongness”, he persuaded by being more humble and less forceful.  In the same way, we as followers of Christ need to strive to be a blessing and a reflection by not confronting but showing love to the lost.  We don’t have to tell people they are wrong, many times our actions will tell them.  When someone sues you for your clothes and you say, “hey those clothes need this jacket here take this too”.  How does that make the person feel, you are confronting them for another angle, a spiritual angle as opposed to the angle from the flesh.



3. If you are wrong admit it quickly and emphatically


If our nature wants to be right!, the last thing we want to do is admit when we are wrong.  It goes against the grain of our pride and significance to be wrong.  However, to be follower of Christ, we need to admit we are wrong, or we are sinners.  We need a savior, because we are lost.  Most people if asked don’t think they are bad, they might not admit they are perfect, but they will not call themselves sinners.  Helping someone understand their need for salvation, often begins with helping people see they are sinners in need of a savior.

         The struggle with admitting fault or being wrong is hard for man of us.  What me say I was wrong? Many feel, when they know were wrong, but pride prevents us from admitting it.   How many friendships, families and marriages can be restored if pride was removed, and people admitted they were wrong?  This is a dilemma the world over, it’s a human condition.    Being humble, trusting in the Lord is a direct confrontation to our human nature.

         Dale Carnegie relates this story from Hong Kong, how by admitting being wrong, despite culture and pride, can restore a family.


Michael Cheung, who teaches our course n Hong Kong, told how Chinese culture presents some special problems and how sometimes it is necessary to recognize that the benefit of applying a principle may be more advantageous than maintaining an old tradition.  He had a middle-aged class member who had been estranged from hi son form many ears.  The father had been an Opium addict, but was now cured.  In Chinese tradition an older person cannot take the first step.  The father felt that it was up to his son to take the initiative toward reconciliation.  In an early session, he told the class about the grandchildren he had never seen and how much he desired to be reunited with his son.  His classmates, all Chinese, understood the conflict between his desire and long-established tradition.  The father felt that young people should have respect for their elders and that he was right in not giving in to his desire, to wait for his son to come to him.

Toward the end of the course the father again addressed his class.  “I have pondered this problem,” he said.  “Dale Carnegie says, ‘If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.’  It is too late for me to admit it quickly, but I can admit it emphatically. I wronged my son.   He was right in not wanting to see me and expel me from his life. I may lose face[4] by asking a younger person’s forgiveness, but I was at fault and it is my responsibility to admit this.”  The class applauded and gave him their full support.  At the next class he told how  he went to his son’s house, asked for and received forgiveness and now embarked on a new relationship with his son, his daughter-in-law and grandchildren he had at last met.


         Admitting your wrong is one of the hardest aspects of human relations, Jesus relates the story of the Prodigal son, how his pride caused him to work with the pigs, rather then come to his father and admit he was wrong.  Only when he could admit his fault, was he able to come to the father and be reunited.


11 Then He said: "A certain man had two sons. 12 "And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 "And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 "But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 "Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 "And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 "But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 'I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 "and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants." ' 20 "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 "And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.' 22 "But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 'And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 'for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry. 25 "Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 "So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 "And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.' 28 "But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 "So he answered and said to his father, 'Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 'But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.' 31 "And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 'It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.' " Luke 15:11-32



When we are the first to admit our faults, there are many benefits in our relations with others.  People see us as accessible; we have lowered our gates, eliminating the barriers. 


[1] Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People  Pgs. 115,116

[2] ibid, pg. 129

[3] ibid pgs 129,130

[4] Face refers to two separate but related concepts in Chinese social relations. One is mianzi (Chinese: 面子), and the other is lian (Traditional Chinese: , Simplified Chinese: ), which are both used commonly in everyday speech rather than in formal writings. Lian is the confidence of society in a person's moral character, while mianzi represents social perceptions of a person's prestige. For a person to maintain face is important with Chinese social relations because face translates into power and influence and affects goodwill. A loss of lian would result in a loss of trust within a social network, while a loss of mianzi would likely result in a loss of authority. To illustrate the difference, gossiping about someone stealing from a cash register would cause a loss of lian but not mianzi. Repeatedly interrupting one's boss as he is trying to speak may cause the boss a loss of mianzi but not lian.