An old saying reminds us, A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. Our attempts to change people’s opinions are usually met with resistance. It’s like the old Aesop fable where the sun and the wind argued over who was stronger. The issue was settled with the help of an unsuspecting traveler who was wearing a cloak. Which one could make him disrobe? The wind began to blow, but the man clutched his cloak even more closely. Then the sun began to shine, and sure enough, a little bit of warmth caused the man to take off his cloak willingly.
A pretty please is like a ray of sunlight. It’s far more effective than trying to get your way through brute force. Not only does it win friends; it also wins enemies and turns them into friends. Persuasion is like the art of inception. You politely plant a seed in people’s minds. How? Instead of issuing decrees, you ask questions. Instead of making demands, you make requests. Please gives people margin to own the idea, alter the idea, implement the idea. If they own the idea, it will own them. If they don’t own it, you’ll be doing a lot more managing than you want.
Can I make a confession? I’m a control freak! It’s awfully hard to “let go and let God.” But playing God is absolutely exhausting, and I’m not very good at it. So I’ve learned to give an extra measure of grace to people who have different experiences and personalities.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
The last phrase can be translated this way: “tolerating one another in love.” Tolerance doesn’t mean relativism. That’s a slippery slope. It’s not a stamp of approval on anything that is outside God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will. What is it? Biblical tolerance is giving other people the same measure of free will that God gives us. It’s against my religion to impose my religion on anyone else! Oswald Chambers said it best: “Let God be as original with others as he is with you.”
When you threaten people, they become defensive. The same goes for nagging. The more you push, the more they resist. Instead of trying to strong-arm people with gale-force winds, we should shine like stars. Isn’t that what God does? When God wants us to change, He shows us kindness. If that doesn’t work? He shows us more kindness! It’s reverse psychology—or maybe I should say, reverse theology. In the words of Selena Gomez, you “kill ’em with kindness.”
We have just released a 8- week study on the topic: Please, Sorry, Thanks. It does not go chapter by chapter through Mark Batterson’s book by the same title. Rather, it deals with similar themes. You can get it on Amazon. It is also available as part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking.