It’s weird to think about persuasion, right?
I think of con men, used car sales, and online scams.
But part of what Christians are called to do is persuade others, right?
For instance, Jude starts off his letter by saying,
Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write, appealing to you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.
Or remember how Luke begins?
Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us. So it also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in an orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.
Arthur Brooks, a professor at both Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School, explores this topic in a recent piece for The Atlantic.
Here’s the line that grabbed my attention (emphasis added):
I have known quite a few religious missionaries, who tend to be cheerful despite facing almost constant rejection of their closest-held values. As one told me once, “No one ever said, ‘Great news: There are missionaries on the porch.’” What explains this apparent dissonance? The answer is that effective missionaries present their beliefs as a gift. And sharing a gift is a joyful act, even if not everyone wants it.
Got it? If we want to be persuasive, we have to share our beliefs as a gift to others.
Well… how is this possible?
It’s interesting, but this is often overlooked. Here’s the big secret: We first have to experience our relationship with God as a gift.
If that isn’t our own experience, there won’t be integrity, authenticity, and sustainability in giving others the opportunity to hear about Jesus.
So often, religious institutions can give us a different feeling about faith. It is a lot of work! We’re not doing a good job and need to try harder. The deadly trio of guilt, shame, and fear.
What reminds you that knowing God is a gift?
How do you cultivate gratitude for what God has done for you?
Do you feel that sharing your beliefs with others is giving them a gift?