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Humor can be very effective in speaking. It has been said: “When people are laughing they are listening. Then you can tell them anything you want to tell them.” How true!

Telling me as a listener that I am arrogant might be tough for me to swallow. Use a humorous story about arrogance, first though, and I will probably receive it better. Effective communicators use humor in explaining truth.

That said, three kinds of humor need to be avoided.


1.) Making light of subject matters that should be handled with seriousness. This includes discussions of sacred topics like the holiness of God or the substitutionary death of His Son, as well as particular sins such as adultery.  

A.W. Tozer was noted for saying, “There is plenty to laugh at in the world—just be sure you don’t laugh at what God takes seriously.”

There are so many areas in a message where humor can be used effectively, there is no need to use it where it should be avoided.

2.) Humor offensive to others, particularly unbelievers. I do not use ethnic jokes or jokes about particular people. You may look at a political figure with disdain, but others may see him as a hero. Politician jokes are acceptable but not jokes about political figures.

3.) Making jokes about occupations. Be warned that if you tell an “attorney” joke, there may be an attorney in the audience. If you should use an occupational joke, start with your occupation, not someone else’s.

All these are common sense. Just be careful not to lay that common sense aside when using humor. Done right, humor is effective. Done wrong, it hurts rather than helps your message.

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