Persuasion is a bad strategy. This blog is devoted to convincing you of that!
The art of persuasion is based on several dubious assumptions. Let’s take a look.
The Other Party is Ill Informed or Uninformed
So we go about the business of informing them. Problems arise. People don’t like being called stupid or ignorant. People may be less open minded than you think. So the defense mechanisms go up. Rather than admit they are wrong, they may tend to dig in. Or, they may believe YOU are ill informed and begin breaking down your argument to prove you wrong.
Lee Strobel was an atheist and set out to PROVE his case. In the process, he became a Christian. His book “The Case for Christ” documents his journey from atheism to christianity.
How often does it happen that the other person says “I’ve considered the facts you’ve presented and realize that I was wrong and you are right. Where do I sign up for your cause?”
Even if you are able to change their mind, you have done so at a very high cost. You’ve hurt their self esteem.
We can ill afford many such victories.
Disparaging Their Decision is the First Step
I’m amazed at how many people believe that if they can somehow disparage the object of my affection, that will somehow persuade me to be attracted to the object of their affection. Let me get this right. Let’s say I drive a Ford and you’re a Chevy guy. You confront me with a litany of defects in my Ford. You’ve insulted me. I like my Ford. Furthermore, even if you could get me to believe your low opinion of a Ford, you haven’t given me a reason to buy a Chevy. Yet, people invest heavily in this strategy – especially during campaign season!
Let’s assume you are successful in persuading me that Ford is no good. But in doing so you’ve hurt my pride. You’ve made me feel like an idiot.
You can ill afford many such victories.
It’s Only Logical
Far from it. Most important decisions are based on ideas, faith, feelings, and the pursuit of happiness – anything but logic.
- Buying a car
- Political candidates
- Having a baby
These are important decisions and they are seldom driven by logic. Yes, logic comes into play AFTER we have made our decision.
But let’s say you’re good at it and you are able to use your skills to persuade others. Well, you better be darned good at it. You’ll need to be because…
If you can talk them into something, someone else can talk them out of it.
Many such victories you can ill afford.
While there are rare and even notable exceptions, the overall tone in the bible is to proclaim rather than persuade.
If you do this thing and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people also will go to their place in peace. Exodus 18:23
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:11
Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13
Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm. 2 Corinthians 1:24
For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end. Hebrews 3:14
I could go on and on, but notice that the recurring theme is NOT persuasion.
I’m a big fan of “full armor” found in Ephesians 6:10-18. When my daughter was four years old, she could recite it from memory. She was so zealous about citing the full armor passage that she once used it to witness to our associate pastor!
Notice that the elements of the full armor passage are DEFENSIVE. I’ll save that sermon for another blog. My understanding is that we are not called to oppress evil – that’s the job of the Holy Spirit. We are called to stand firm in the faith and proclaim the truth.
That’s what I think. I’m interested in your thoughts. There’s lots of ways to hit me up so let me hear from you.
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