Earlier this week I wrote an article about “How to Eloquently Overcome Gospel Blindness.” I suggested that using pattern interrupts might help when sharing the gospel with others who miss or step over what you are saying and take the conversation in a completely different direction. I gave the example of the advertising industry using a sharp volume increase for their commercials to grab attention. Then I suggested trying your own pattern interrupts to see if they help.
We want to communicate without being ‘preachy’ or obnoxious. We want to be accepted as who we are, normal people who believe in Jesus Christ, our Father God and the world to come. We do not want to do anything that suggests we are lunatics to put it mildly.
Metaphor as a Pattern Interrupt
Here’s one pattern interrupt that Jesus used all the time. It’s called a ‘metaphor.” A metaphor is a linguistic device that tells something through story. Here’s a definition of metaphor from Dictionary.com.
a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance, as in “A mighty fortress is our God.”
Here’s another definition from the Marriam-Webster dictionary:
a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them (as in drowning in money); broadly : figurative language — compare simile
Now I’m not fond of hypnosis, but here’s an excellent description of how to use metaphors as a pattern interrupt that can be found at http://successworkhypnosis.blogspot.com.
How are metaphors employed? They work when there’s some sort of conscious resistance, or when there’s lack of focus. Because they’re stories, they (should) have vivid sensory descriptors to really capture the audiences attention. They’re a natural choice to use on oppositional children, and great in a business context where raw, dry information can leave your audience unmoved. and, yeah, they’re kind of covert.
Anyway, here’s my point: When you use a good creative metaphor (“steaming piles of paperwork,” or “happy tourists popping up like mushrooms”), you engage people’s senses and imagination, and when you engage their imagination you’re tapping into their subconscious. That necessitates withdrawing from the moment, and that, my friends, is a pattern interrupt.
Humor as a Pattern Interrupt
Humor can be used as a pattern interrupt. A pattern interrupt changes the normal thought pattern and humor is an excellent way to do that.
Here’s an expert from an expert executive coaching blog. Now I know little about NLP and I’m not promoting it here, but the content about humor as a pattern interrupt is interesting.
Humor is a fantastic tool to incorporate into the Pattern Interrupt because it links up a “fun” state to the new behavior you choose to take afterwards. Here are a few fun pattern interrupts that have come up with clients lately.
Belief: a “Waste not, want not” attitude in regards to food at dinner.
“You can Waste it, or Waist it, which waist do you want?”
Belief: I am too tired to get up in the morning.
“It is a simple matter of mind over mattress.”
Belief: I’ll start tomorrow, I meant to do that, or I was going to…
“When would NOW be a good time to start?”
Belief: I don’t know.
“I know I don’t know what I don’t know now, but if I did know now, what would I know to do?”
Belief: We argue all the time.
“This is a great opportunity for discussion.”
Belief: I hate this!
“This situation is truly less that favorable!”
And my favorite:
Belief: It’s not in my job description, I shouldn’t have to do it.
“If you don’t stay sharp and on point, like the tip of a spear, all you get in the end is the shaft.”
Pattern Interrupts can be a great tool for not only changing your state but the emotional state of others also. The shock value of not giving a “typical” response is what ignites the opportunity for change to happen in patterns of thought. Adding humor is like adding gas to the fire!
Use humor, where appropriate when you’re conversing with others and see if it livens up the discussion and gets more attention to your main points.
Time and Location Pattern Interrupts
Pattern interrupts are not limited to speech. I’ve used time and location pattern interrupts very successfully. If you can get someone out of their normal pattern, their usual schedule, their well-worn routines, then you have a better chance of communicating effectively.
I had been witnessing to someone here and there for a good couple of months and it appeared the person was at least slightly interested but not really making any type of decision about doing anything about what I was saying. I was meeting him at a public place we both frequented and there were always other people around talking to both of us, so I never really had quality alone-time with him.
I suggested going to a store on the other side of town one day and he readily agreed. Getting him alone was a good step forward, and I didn’t exploit the opportunity right away. A few trips later, to restaurants, to a movie and even to my home, he finally started asking questions. God revealed his main objection to the gospel and that was the turning point. He was worried about his own past sin life and doubted that God could ever forgive him.
With that information I now had something specific and personal to him to work with. Sometimes that’s all it takes. You can talk about many different things in life and always bring the Bible into it, but when you have something specific and personal to the person, it becomes a cakewalk. (Another tip here is to ask questions of the person you’re speaking with to help discover any issues or objections.)
Sometimes it takes a while for the person to open up, and pattern interrupts like time and location can be very conducive to help build a relationship and fertilize the soil so to speak. Other times, God will reveal to you exactly what you need to say. Face it, sometimes we only see a person once and building a relationship is just not possible. Do we abandon those encounters? No. If we can plant one seed, that’s one seed more in that person’s heart than was there before. But if God does reveal something specific, it could bridge the reluctance gap right then and there.
Think of your own pattern interrupts. Do some research into it on the Internet, there are plenty of references about it as you can see from the ones I’ve quoted above.
Above all, listen to God and love people. Don’t push, just plant. To change the culture for our Lord Jesus Christ, behaviors have to change. Behaviors change when hearts change. Listen to God and you will find yourself in the right place at the right time with the right words to say. Praise God for his spirit within us!