Traction . . . .


tire traction  “Traction”: Just An Example

There are sentences and thoughts which an audience could probably finish when a speaker is talking if they are used to hearing that speaker over and over.  This happens with those we converse with a lot.  There are phrases which we use over and over, unconsciously, and which may well irritate others — “You know what I mean.”

Obviously, such is the case with the teachers and preachers we listen to week after week.  All speakers fall into patterns which involve the words that they use and the way they construct a speech.

Speakers can and do fall into the same habits of repeating certain words, the ways of framing an idea, the kinds of illustrations they use, and their sermonic structure (ie, “three points and a poem” / “Big Idea” / “Commentary on the obvious”).

We are creatures of habit and those habit of speech soon become anticipated by a church audience.

  • “You know what I mean . . . .”
  • “The long and short of this is . . . .”
  • “In conclusion . . . .” – (hardly sometimes!)
  • “The first principle is . . . .”
  • “Now, let me apply this to our lives . . . .”
  • “Let me wrap this up . . . .”
  • “This morning we are in the book of . . . .”
  • “We are in a series on . . . .”
  • “In all intents and purposes . . . .”
  • “If we had the time we could look at . . . .”
  • “Now don’t miss this . . . .”
  • “Now if you forget everything else that . . . .” – (you can finish it right?)
  • “If you don’t write anything else down . . . ” – (variation of the above)
  • “I believe that this is teaching . . . .”
  • “There are things which  . . . .
  • “Come on somebody . . . . Can I get an . . . . ” – (can finish that one as well?)
  • “Turn to your neighbor . . . . ” – (a more recent one you can still finish?)
  • “Hear this Beloved / family / fellowship . . . . “
  • “Look at me now . . . .”
  • “I’m going to make it / keep it short today.”
  • “I can’t change it because I didn’t write it.  You will have to argue with . . . .”
  • “Is everyone tracking me?”  – (i.e., Matt Chandler – et al.)
  • “Are you with me?” –  (the classical version of the above).


In fact, the audience can typically tell when you are about to wrap up the message by the change of tone and wording which accompanies your speaking.  Given enough exposure, an audience has come to read the speaker and his wording fairly well.  However, that does not result in many profitable outcomes when it comes to speaking.  It has a tendency to lessen the need for attention and focus.

When the speaker’s content . . . .

  • sounds like a general review of last week
  • is perceived as contextually related information
  • comes across as the standard warming up to the actual sermon
  • appears to be a running commentary on the obvious
  • has much the same information we have heard over the years

. . . audience members can go into a “multi-tasking listening mode” where they are both listening to what is being said and also thinking about whatever.  We have all been there, and at times we even realize that we missed what was being said after we hear the audience laughing (As we lean over to our spouse and ask, “What did he just say?).

This is one of the reasons that a speaker wants to use various rhetorical techniques which add VARIETY to a message.  That VARIETY can be as simple as (“as simple as,” but not limited to) a change-up of words.  That is why a “thesaurus” is so useful (see

We work in the world of words!

There are different ways to frame a concept in the mind of your audience which adds variety and therefore catches their attention.  When a speaker calls up a word which is far different from what I am anticipating, it grabs my attention.  Jesus did this when He used the word “Father”

As I listened to Andy Stanley preach a message a while ago, he caught my attention when he used the word “traction.”  He indicated that there were two ideas, which could be found in Matthew 4 – The Lord’s Temptation – which would help during times of temptation.

In speaking about “temptation’s pull” using some of the typical terms, imagery, or religious terminology . . . .

  • allurement
  • enticement
  • seduction
  • attraction
  • pull
  • appeal
  • tempting

. . . . he calls up the word “traction.”

Stanley states that midst temptation, believers can lose “traction.”  If a believer wants to gain traction midst temptation, there are two truths which when put together will help him or her.

Here are the three times he calls up that word — but really that imagery (@) 4, 8, 12 minutes!).


two ideas that we so easily miss in the midst of temptation and consequently lose our traction in dealing with temptation

(@ 8:57)

and by God’s grace you’re gonna begin to gain the traction and not simply the self-control but the insight you need to deal differently and more effectively with the temptations that you face and I face every day.


(@ 12:20)

that these  – that these temptations – these kind of mega-temptations are the source of – and are what give traction to – and what give – you no – credence to – the temptations that you face

Truth, Principle, Big Idea:**

An Answer To Temptation Which Breaks The Traction

How To Regain The Traction



Related words which can be used to develop this word’s imagery:

  • Grip
  • Friction
  • Hold
  • Towing
  • Clutch
  • Foothold
  • Handle on
  • Appeal
  • Allure
  • Attractivity
  • Freight
  • Hauling
  • Pulling power
  • Tug-of-war
  • Shoes
  • Tires
  • Treads
  • Drag
  • Spin
  • Stuck
  • Mud
  • Slip
  • You can also “create” words – Try a portmanteau kind of word.

Tony Evans could take some of these related words and use those words to draw a specific picture which revolved around “the natural” – A Quad / A Bulldozer / A Jeep In Mud / etc.

And you can also!****


*We even have a name for such words and phrases — Trite Expressions

  • No sooner said than done
  • By hook or by crook
  • Busy as a bee
  • A bolt from the blue
  • Few and far between
  • In this day and age
  • Words fail me
  • By leaps and bounds
  • Better late than never
  • A good time was had by all
  • Breathed a sigh of relief
  • From the ridiculous to the sublime
  • It’s a small world
  • Life and limb
  • Sticks out like a sore thumb
  • In the final analysis


** Andy Stanley uses the idea of traction two different ways.  One is the traction that temptation has in the life of the believer, and the other is “you’re gonna begin to gain or regain the traction.”  A speaker might want to keep the focus singular, though it can be done or “worked out” like Stanley has.  It is a matter of how you develop the image so that you do not confuse by mixing the imagery.

*** Yes, “the word “traction” can become a word which loses it uniqueness or variety.  Such is the case with “mentor” “a God moment,” or “push back”  these days.  Just listen to Matt Chandler who over-uses the phrase – “are you tracking with me.”

****When you think of the word “traction,” think of the technique which generates variety.  The word “Traction” is just an example of this rhetorical technique designed to create variety.

An example of the power of thinking outside of the box or using words that create focus and attention is illustrated over and over in various yet similar postings . . . .

Jesus king sized bed

It is saying something in a different way!

It calls up a different way of seeing the manger and different thoughts about Who laid there on Christmas morning.


Generate Your Thinking: Other Ways Of Saying It

  • It will “twist” your faith.
  • It will “rattle” your conscience.
  • Evangelism is “all-skate” — An “Everybody in the pool” activity
  • It’s Big – You have no control over it
  • It’s persistent. – It’s not going away. or “I’m not going away. Lord.”
  • Sin is hidden from others – It involves “Image management”
  • Hypocrisy – There is a gap between what people see and you are.
  • Pray Big:  Don’t ask the same things pagans ask about and which all work out without them even talking to God.





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