Wisdom Persuades and is Persuadable
We have strong opinions on how something should be done. We really believe our opinion is the best way to do this thing. Ever been there? Ever had a day when you haven’t felt this way about something?
These situations may involve decisions that are made in leadership team or business meetings, or in conversations with our roommates or spouse on the “proper” way to place the toilet paper on the roll (just so you know the paper goes down over the top :-)), or on how to strategize while playing a game, or even deciding what is best to serve for a holiday meal.
We may have always done something a certain way—or believe our thoughts on how to do certain things have been thoughtfully and carefully discerned—and are right.
We may be right.
We may be wrong.
Or, we may be neither.
The more important outcomes for such disputable matters are how well we preserve relationships, and how well we “play with others on the playground.”
There are many different and okay ways to do things that are not doctrinally mandated from the Scriptures. Yet it’s so easy to wish others would just get on board with what we are sure is the best way to do a particular thing—the right way :-).
Wyndham has for years practiced wisdom that understands the need to persuade and be persuadable. Wisdom finds a way to reason together:
…learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD… (Isaiah 1:16b-18a)
We can dig our heels in, insisting on our way…or we can seek to persuade and be persuadable. We can reason together.
Wisdom knows how to do both.
So how do we persuade without being obnoxious? I refer again to James 3:17.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
There is a way to persuade that comes from a pure heart. This way begins with prayer and a desire to do whatever is most pleasing to God, no matter how we are affected by a decision. Persuasion coming from a pure heart communicates this spirit through words, demeanor, body language, tone, and attitude. Humility, or lack thereof is visible. God resists the proud, and so do people.
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5b)
While trying to persuade, pure hearts are also persuadable—because they listen and desire to learn. Because they value relationship over winning.
Peace-loving-persuasion ensures that respect is given to other opinions, and condescending comments or gestures are avoided. Nothing undermines persuasion more than obstinance and disrespect.
We are more able to persuade when we speak with consideration to others—considering how our comments will be heard, considering our tone, considering our body language, considering where others are coming from. However, when we begin with a pure heart these attributes follow.
Wisdom knows that to persuade you must reason, come to the table with a pure heart, be considerate, and be humble. These same qualities allow us to be persuaded by another’s thoughts as well. Wisdom is full of humility, with a willingness to be persuaded.
Wyndham, through his wisdom that comes from God, has reminded me that it’s okay to try to persuade (though I don’t usually need much reminding). In fact, God calls us to seek to persuade others to follow God (2 Cor. 5:11). In opinions, if we can persuade through a pure heart, consideration and humility it’s all good. If we can’t, we then get to practice humility. In groups and in family, I’ve seen Wyndham try hard to persuade, and also have seen him be persuadable. And whichever is the outcome, when he comes out of the arena of reasoning, he agrees to come out united. I have watched him when his opinion didn’t “win the day” come out of the setting with the decision to be united with the group’s decision—in such a way that you would never know which way he leaned. (I would know, but you wouldn’t.)
May we all gain wisdom to persuade and be persuadable.