“The wise are known for their understanding, and pleasant words are persuasive.” Proverbs 16:21 NLT
Persuasive, isn’t that a good word. It lends itself to the idea of communicating ideas in such a way as to inspire a change of thought in a civilized way. When I think of persuasion I think of classic debate.
If you want to understand classic debates, you will find them alive and well in our High Schools in this nation. The debates are structure, organized and hours are devoted to research, positioning and argument. Data is presented, suppositions supported, time is limited and judges determine winners and losers.
A good debate makes the observer think, perhaps align with a position, and gain a clearer understanding. That is a wise way to gain understanding. But there are other types of “debate”. Those that carry the same name of debate, but represent something far different. Some are endless insults, judgments, and void of any conclusions. They are more critical than persuasive.
It seems as though the rise of social media has poisoned the art of debate. Perhaps it is the anonymity of the internet, the overwhelming flood of messaging, or the fragmented culture that we live in, but there is little doubt that any issue is wildly commented on without regard for simple courtesy and decency, let alone structure and order. The results? Less understanding and further division.
No one changes their position based upon an angry social media post. It was a little over 40 years ago when Francis Schaeffer asked the question in his best selling book “How shall we then live?“ A question for culture that is more relevant today than ever. The answer, in part, is found once again in this ancient book of wisdom.
“The wise are known for their understanding, and pleasant words are persuasive.”
It isn’t harsh words and criticism that are persuasive, it is pleasant words. Pleasant words carries the connotation of care for another. The old adage is that “people don’t want to know how much you know until they know how much you care”.
If you want to be wise in this culture, seek understanding. And if you want to be persuasive, use pleasant words.
This week, show your care for people and choose pleasant words in offering your input.
In His Hands,