For years, I’ve been doing video commentary on current events. During the course of thousands of videos, viewed millions of times, I’ve received a lot of criticism of my approach.
Some people who agree with me politically or even theologically get offended by my suggestion that we might want to expand the audience for our views by connecting with people who disagree. I read a lot of comments from folks who seem to think that in order to “speak truth” we must be abrupt. We must make people sharply aware of their error so they can get right. I’ve heard suggestions that it’s acceptable to rough them up a bit, rhetorically speaking.
I’ve heard from Christians who remind me that Jesus made a whip and chased the money-changers out of the temple, so that his Father’s house might be a house of prayer.
These folks believe that if we first endeavor to make a friend, to listen and to treat people with respect, we’re somehow blessing or condoning their wrong ideas – ideas which are destroying the country and leading many astray.
Let me address this first by saying, he who is without error may cast the first truth stone.
While I have many strong views, I’m not infallible, and I find that a dose of humility is not only appropriate to my intellectual limitations, finite knowledge and fallibility, but it’s often effective at earning a hearing.
Benjamin Franklin was famous for presenting his strongly-held views with gentleness, using phrases like “it’s been my observation,” or “it seems to me.” It wasn’t a lack of confidence in his ideas that led him to couch things that way, but rather a wish to persuade.
Here’s the challenge. If you have come to embrace “the truth” about something, other interpretations can seem to be “a lie.” People who speak counter to the truth are, of course, “liars.” A liar is trying to deceive others, and if you care about our nation, our faith or our culture, then you feel a visceral need to defend the innocent against deception. It’s upsetting to you to hear someone tearing down the truth.
I understand and agree with much of this.
But the WinSome strategy doesn’t call for you to surrender the truth, or to capitulate to liars in the interest of being nice. Far from it. In fact, WinSome strategy intends to persuade others of the truth in the most effective way possible.
Let me add that if you have a gift for speaking blunt truth in a way that persuades people to adopt your views, by all means continue to do so. Let ‘er rip.
You might also write a book and create some videos to teach others how to do it. I’ve not met many who had that gift — perhaps because the level of wisdom required approaches that of Jesus himself. And you might recall that his truth-speaking led to his execution.
Christians are called to follow Christ, and to speak truth, but the scripture says to “speak truth in love.” It’s been my observation that the love part gets overlooked, and we tend to speak truth like a hammer, with little care about what, or who, gets broken in the process.
WinSome strategy never calls for lying. It means to tell the truth in the most effective way possible. In order to connect truth with the hearts and minds of people who disagree with you, WinSome paves the way by making a friend, earning a hearing, and making it personal.
If you’ve read this far and still think that I’m a softy who lacks the courage of my convictions to stand and deliver with the hammer of truth, then perhaps WinSome is not for you…yet.
I have some dear friends who wield the gift of blunt speech with great eloquence. Their words stir my heart, and draw applause from the faithful who already believe as they do.
My calling is different. I always long to reach the unreached — to win some to the cause who are like I was.
If you share that calling, you may hear less applause from your compatriots, but your long-term strategy may do more to grow the movement than many pep rallies within the ideological bubble.
So, please, do speak truth. But keep the end goal in mind. Desire to see the other person embrace the truth as their own. Grow the movement.
Speak the truth in love.