Summarize for Clarity

Ok, you find yourself in another philosophical discussion with someone and you are sharing details of your belief system and they are sharing about theirs. It can quickly become difficult to track on all the rabbit trails that can occur as well as the vocabulary challenges.

Test everything that is said, hold on to what is good.

Sometimes we are using common words that mean something different to others. An expert communicator is acutely aware that this happens in nearly every philosophical discussion. The idea is to minimize misunderstandings and clarify thoughts.

It works both ways, too. Have you ever been in an argument with someone and realized that you were actually making the same case? It's funny but things like that can be preempted by summarizing as you go. 

Test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. - 1 Thessalonians 5:21 NLT

Summarizing has its greatest effect when you start early in the conversation. We don't want to assume what someone means when engaged in a thoughtful conversation. The details are important. The vocabulary is important. Summarizing facilitates the success of the conversation.


Recapitulate is a fantastic word that captures the idea of this skill. It means, to restate the main points of (an argument, speech, etc); summarize. Thank you,!

Summarizing early and often in conversation:

  • Slows the conversation down for better thinking.
  • Helps to keep everyone on topic.
  • Infuses peace, affirming the other person is being heard.
  • Leads to follow up questions.
  • Clarifies where the conversation lands.
  • Builds relationships.

All of this has the effect of clarifying ideas, overcoming vocabulary barriers, infusing peace into the conversation and probably the most important of all, keeping the conversation on topic.

And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul's message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. - Acts 17:11 NLT


Take Action!

Should I summarize what was said even if I understood what they meant?

Yes, indeed.
When we are delivering the Gospel, teaching a biblical concept or fielding an argument from someone of a different belief system we want to have one goal... helping them to salvation. So, let's be effective in our conversations.
When it comes to summarizing, do it early in the conversation. Do it often. At the end of the conversation, summarize what was agreed upon and what was disagreed upon. Then be sure to summarize the things that ended up as, "we don't know," and remember, it's ok to say, "I don't know." :-)
Here's a quick and fun example to demonstrate:
Friend: "Wow! This food it hot!"
YOU: "Hot to the touch?"
Friend: "No. Spicy hot."
Practice these additional skills to compliment your summarizing expertise: 

I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ's return. - Philippians 1:10 NLT

Please, add your thoughts in the comment section.


Concept: Summarize early and often.

In The Cool Zone concept. Think like Jesus thinks. Deliver the Gospel.


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