The Law Of Reciprocity
There is a well-documented phenomenon in psychology that scholars call the Law of Reciprocity.
The Basic idea from a Biblical worldview is that people are created to participate in relationships.
The Law of Reciprocity states that when one person freely gives to another, the receiving person feels an unconscious and overwhelming need to give back to the person who was generous.
There was a religious group that was asked to permanently stop asking for donations at an airport after they began using the law of reciprocity.
They had one person in uniform handing out worthless plastic flowers as people approached the exit doors. They then had another person in the same uniform with an offering plate at the exit door.
When this religious group started doing this, they saw a massive increase in their daily donations.
When people know you care about them, they will suddenly and inexplicably care about you too.
This is one of the most critical elements in a gospel presentation.
Unless the person you are speaking with has begun to reciprocate sharing any advice (or the gospel message) WILL BE RECEIVED AS CRITICISM.
This is why sharing the gospel message feels awkward and uncomfortable for the sharer and it’s also why the listener often gets defensive or checks out.
Here is a universal law of communication:
Unwanted advice is criticism
This means there is no gospel presentation until the other person asks for your input. You have to earn their trust before you can break out your Bible verses (or your actual Bible).
You will know when the other person is ready to hear what you have to say when they say something like:
- “Oh, I’m sorry, I just realized I’ve been talking for 30 minutes. What about you?”
- “What do you think?”
- “What would you do in that situation?”
- “Have you experienced that too?”
- “What do you believe?”
When you show someone that you care about their opinions, feelings, stories, and experiences, they will suddenly be open to yours too – and they will actually let you know when they WANT to hear your thoughts.
When you meet the needs of the person you are talking to by listening and caring about them, they will reciprocate your kindness and invite you to share your thoughts and opinions with them.