College Faith

College Faith

#15: How To Respond When Your Faith is Challenged in Class

December 01, 2021

My guest for this episode is Dr. Tim Muehlhoff, professor of Communication at Biola University. His research, writing, speaking, and consulting focuses on how to have healthy and productive conversations with others, from the home to the church to the university to the public square.  

Due to his understanding of communication theory, as well as spending many years earning three degrees in public universities, I can think of no one better to help us understand our topic today!

In this podcast we discuss:

  • How the wrong choice of words can easy sabotage communication and relationships
  • Why he began researching how to engage difficult conversations 
  • What a Christian student’s priority in class should be
  • How to earn the right to be heard in class
  • Understanding the insecurities of (especially) teaching assistants and adjunct professors, and how best to build credibility with them
  • The importance of the first thirty seconds when discussing an area of disagreement
  •  Why the stage of the semester makes a huge difference in responding to challenges
  • The two levels of communication: content and relational (tone and respect)
  • The importance of being able to argue the other side of an issue, and “speaking truth in love”
  • The three questions to ask yourself first in order to communicate well and be heard
  • Factors to take into account to determine if and when to speak up
  • The four areas of the “communication climate” essential to having good conversations (including having our perspective heard in class)
  • Times Tim succeeded and failed in applying these principles, and what he learned
  • Applying “treat others as you want to be treated” to relationships and conversations
  • The role of having gratitude and charity toward even those who promote radically anti-Christian views
  • How to use, and not use, email in communicating with professors and fellows students
  • The role of humor, presence, good etiquette, and compliments in building bridges and fostering good conversations
  • A word of encouragement for Christian students at secular universities

Resources mentioned during our conversation: