Believe Your Beliefs

If you knew for a certainty that tomorrow morning the sun would rise blue in an orange sky, and you tried to tell people about it, but they rejected you, or mocked you, what would you do?

Would you react harshly? Insult them? Yell? Curse?

Probably not.

You’d calmly wait for the dawn, and your vindication.

This odd metaphor illustrates our next WinSome concept: Believe your beliefs.

A peace that passes understanding rests on a person who has explored and tested his beliefs — who has lived them and found them to be sweet and salutary. He doesn’t need to argue. He doesn’t take offense when someone disagrees. All he needs to do is patiently live out the truth he has come to know, and always be ready to give an answer to those who wonder why he’s so joyful. He gives that answer with gentleness and respect.

You see, if you have confidence in your beliefs, then one more doubter cannot shake you. The mockery of the mockers rolls off you like water from a duck’s back.

Ironically, it is this very calm in the face of attack and ridicule that becomes the evidence to the doubters that what you believe is true, or at least that it works for you. Your demeanor offers testimony to your ideas. Your persuasion efforts become invitatons to share the joy, rather than arguments to defend your ideas.

This reminds me of when my fellow Christians feel duty-bound to passionately, aggressively, and sometimes rudely, stand up for Christ or the Bible in public debate. They’re often stunned that their valiant defense meets with a yawn or ridicule.

The Scriptures say “taste and see that the Lord is good” [Psalm 34:8] But sometimes we seem to take that like a command to jam a spoon down someone’s throat. It’s actually an invitation to enjoy the presence of the living God.

While your enthusiasm for Christ is understandable. Remember who He is. Jesus is a big boy. He can defend himself. Your best act of defending Him is to trust him fully, and to live in His joy.

Likewise, when you have confidence in your ideas, you continually live them out, rather than constantly fight about them.

That’s not to say that there won’t be times when rejection of your ideas puts people in jeopardy, and you feel the need to defend them. But even then, the tone of your response matters. How will you defend those ideas?

The most compelling defense comes from someone so convinced of the truth that he’s not fighting, but inviting others — even the enemies of truth — to experience it for themselves.

Perhaps you think this is naive, but I would suggest it’s the only strategy likely to work in the long run.

If you think that your impassioned and angry rant will raise enough supporters to actually accomplish your objective, then, by all means, do it. But experience in politics and governance shows that the agitated ones are usually in the minority. Their attacks and insults against the majority have as much effect as banging one’s head against a stone wall. Many of us have the cranial bruising to prove it. At best, such “victories” — if ever they come — are short-lived.

When someone who disagrees with you sees and hears anger, she interprets that as frustration, lack of confidence, and ultimately a sign that whatever you’re advocating can’t stand on its own two legs.

When, however, she sees and hears calm, peace, compassion for others, and gentle reason, it piques her curiosity.

How you say something has even more impact than what you say. The strength of your ideas becomes manifest in you.

So, may I ask, how are you doing as a walking exemplar of what you believe?

I often ask myself the same question. I don’t always like the answer.

If you watched a video of your latest political or theological conversation with someone, and turned down the sound, would your performance indicate calm confidence, or something else?

Rest in the truth. Be ready to give an answer to those who ask, but do it with gentleness and respect.

People are not merely listening to your reasoning. About 90 percent of communication is non-verbal. They literally see what you mean.

They feel its impact in how it affects you. They’re attracted to truth that brings you joy.

Everyone wants to live a happy life of calm confidence, and when they see you doing it, they want some of that. They’ll ask how to get it.

Now I know that many of my idea-warrior friends will argue that we’re losing the culture, we’re losing the battle of ideas, and that times like these call for brave ones to stand and fight. I’m not suggesting capitulation, but rather that in our “fight” we use “weapons” that work to win some. I’m issuing a call to project confidence in our values and principles. If your worldview and ideas produce blessing for society, they must also produce joy for you.

Who’s Got the Cookie?

I once worked with a multimillionaire sales trainer who coached me to relax when presenting a prospect with an opportunity.

In your mind, he said, you’re thinking, “I’ve got the cookie. I’ve got the cookie.”

In other words, I have something the prospect needs, that would benefit her. My calm confidence in that fact will do more to “close the sale” than any series of pat answers designed overcome objections.

When it comes to your worldview, values and principles, who has the cookie? Who wants it?

If you’re not sure that you have the cookie, perhaps you need to do some more exploration and experimentation. Think of some concrete, practical ways that you can live out what you say you believe. Try a new approach.

The best salesman is the man who owns one.

It’s easier to persuade others when you actually believe your beliefs.