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Steamroller.

After learning and mastering the previous tactics, you should feel comfortable enough to begin engaging people about your Christian convictions. As you do so, you’ll quickly discover a variety of personalities, some friendly to your message, some not interested. Inevitably, you will “encounter people who try to overpower you. They don’t overwhelm you with facts or arguments. Rather, they roll over you with the force of their personalities.”[1] These are what author Greg Koukl terms Steamrollers. These folks will constantly interrupt you and/or offer challenges, one after the other, changing the subject and continuing to pile on more challenges. They are not interested in listening to what you have to say, rather, what they have to say. So what do you do when you find yourself talking to a steamroller?

Koukl offers three steps to get back into the driver’s seat:

  1. Stop the Steamroller: “Simply hold up your hand and gently say, ‘I’m not quite finished,’ and then continue.”[2] Sometimes you’ll need to negotiate an informal agreement where the steamroller gives you the courtesy to finish your answer.
  2. Shame the Steamroller: But do this in a gracious way. Wait for the steamroller to pause and calmly say, “Can I ask you a favor? I’d love to respond to your concern, but you keep breaking in. Could I have a few moments without being cut off to develop my point? Then you can tell me what you think. Is that okay?”[3]
  3. Leave the Steamroller: “First you stop him, then, you shame If that doesn’t work, you leave him.”[4] Not everyone deserves an answer. Think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:6: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine.” Jesus also didn’t answer every question thrown at Him (see John 19:9 and Matthew 21:27). Also, consider all the Proverbs warning those who deal with the “mocker” and “fool” (see Proverbs 9:7-8; 18:2; 26:4).

Be careful with your own emotions when dealing with a Steamroller. Do not let annoyance, anger, or hostility to come out through your facial expressions or tone of voice. In other words, “Don’t let a steamroller get under your skin.”[5] Also, if it isn’t already abundantly clear, do not let these tactics take the place of our biblical responsibilities to read God’s word, pray constantly, and love your neighbors as yourself.

Check back next week for Chapter 12: Rhodes Scholar.

*Greg Koukl is Founder and President of Stand to Reason. Please do yourself a favor and buy his excellent book here!

[1] Greg Koukl, Tactics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), 158-159.

[2] Ibid, 160.

[3] Ibid, 162.

[4] Ibid, 163.

[5] Ibid, 160.