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Tag Archives: the art of persuasion

Engage

As a father who recently celebrated his oldest son’s wedding, the term engage makes me think of the process a couple goes through prior to getting married.  Yet, synonyms of engage provide a much broader scope.  Absorb, captivate, engross, occupy and seize refer to an engaging encounter, the act of focusing on a specific activity or making the most of your time.  Couples who are dating that are not engaged does not mean they are disengaged.  Rather, one, or both parties are unsure that their significant other is Mr. or Mrs. Right.

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was greatly angered when he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he had discussions in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place day after day with any who happened to be there, Acts 17:16-17.

Upon his first visit to Athens, this city full of idols greatly distressed the apostle Paul.  Instead of withdrawing to a place of safety, Paul began to ask locals about the history of these idols.  Apparently, Paul had daily discussions with these Jewish believers, asking if any inspirational or positive idols existed.  By engaging God-fearing Gentiles, Paul discovered a altar dedicated to an unknown God and a poet who spoke of God’s offspring.  This search for something good inspired Paul to approach the philosophers who debated in a public square daily.

They took him and brought him to the Areopagus (Hill of Ares, the Greek god of war), saying, “May we know what this [strange] new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20 For you are bringing some startling and strange things to our ears; so we want to know what they mean.” 21 (Now all the Athenians and the foreigners visiting there used to spend their [leisure] time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new,) Acts 17:19:21.

Unfortunately, the art of persuasion is disappearing.  Past historical events like the Scopes Money Trial led Christians like William Jennings Bryan to debate atheists in a public forum.  Instead of continuing this tradition, modern politicians use the media to attack, demonize and smear the reputation of their opponents.  Subsequently, instead of putting aside differences to embrace being Americans, belief systems are creating an expansive divide.  The end result is that adults are acting like spoiled children, disengaging from those who don’t share their worldview.  The only way to alter this trend is through prayer and fasting so that engaging the lost will bring hope to dead and dying souls.

by Jay Mankus

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The One Thing In Life That Brings Out Your Best and Worst

Before attending a youth ministry trade school back in 1993, there was a series of books I needed to read prior to my first class.  How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and Bringing Out the Best in People are the two that I remember the most.  Carnegie’s book opened my eyes to practical principles for making friends naturally as well as the art of persuasion.  Meanwhile, Bringing Out the Best in People introduced me to the 3 C’s: Don’t criticize, complain or condemn other people.  When I began to tame my tongue by steering my words in a positive direction, my life ascended toward greatness.  From a personal, social and spiritual perspective, 1993 was the best year of my life.

Now if we put bits into the horses’ mouths to make them obey us, we guide their whole body as well. And look at the ships. Even though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the impulse of the helmsman determines. In the same sense, the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.  See [by comparison] how great a forest is set on fire by a small spark! – James 3:3-5

In the years that have followed, I have never come close to this level of joy and satisfaction.  There have been periods, glimpses of greatness, but each time I quickly came back down to earth.  The reason for my fall lies in the tongue.  According to Jesus’ earthly brother, the tongue is like a rudder on a ship.  When rudders begin to malfunction, ships lose control, going off course.  Following a two year stint as a youth pastor, I let my conversation slip, spitting out destructive, harsh and negative comments.  The longer I allowed my tongue to be undisciplined, it didn’t take long to descend to some of the lowest points in my life.  Like any frustrating moment, human tongues feed off of misery, unleashing vicious thoughts formally kept silent deep inside your mind.

But no one can tame the human tongue; it is a restless evil [undisciplined, unstable], full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God. 10 Out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. These things, my brothers, should not be this way [for we have a moral obligation to speak in a manner that reflects our fear of God and profound respect for His precepts], James 3:8-10.

In the passage above, James reveals the danger of the tongue.  No matter how disciplined you may be, you can only hope to contain this aspect of your flesh.  When you open your mouth, only God knows what will come it.  One day you may be filled with blessings; the next followed by curses.  James urges first century readers of his letter to consider their moral obligation to God.  The words and vocabulary that you choose should reflect a reverence for God.  In addition, your mind should be influenced by God’s precepts as you meditate day and night on these principles.  Without taking this advice seriously, your conversations will resemble a roller coaster ride, with highs that uplift others and lows that cut to the heart.  May this blog challenge you to transform the content of your words in 2019.

by Jay Mankus

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