When I was young, I prided myself on my ability to influence people to come to agree with my perspective. My original DISC profile I took when I was 31 years old labeled me as a “Persuader.” I felt that so accurately described my style of leadership. I had been able to convince people to follow, and that was what I judged to be one of my dominant leadership traits.
However, since then, I have learned that I really can’t control anyone’s behavior. Yes, I can use words to challenge individuals to think differently about themselves or others. I now actually appreciate people thinking differently than I do.
I have learned to allow God to work in changing the minds, hearts, and behaviors of others, and I no longer attempt to control other’s responses. This has taken me years to learn, and I don’t always do it well. But I am getting better at it! Some would see me as more passive and not aggressively selling what I believe. Yet, I really don’t think it is. I still engage, challenge, and seek to express what I believe or how I can serve others. However, I no longer attempt to “convince” others that they must agree with me, procure our services, or buy our products.
I no longer enjoy going to Christian Conferences for this reason. I kind of like the swag, but the spiritual hawking that happens in the vendor’s booths really bothers me. It seems that every vendor has a solution for everyone else’s problems. That used to be my position because I would attempt to convince others to pursue my direction or read the latest book I read.
Nonetheless, this has changed in my life. I am no longer a persuader; rather, I am a presenter. I present what I can do and how it has impacted others. I no longer believe others need to agree with me or even be remotely like me. I no longer believe that Healthy Growing Leaders or TrueWiring are the solutions to every problem with staffing, leaders, or congregational engagement. I know this is NOT a good strategy for creating a large long-term income funding model. So be it.
It seems like there have always been people who have made it their calling to profit by convincing others that their service or product will solve every problem. Sometimes people didn’t even realize they had a problem until the salesperson convinced them otherwise. These people were called “snake oil” salesmen. The term was originally derived from oil from the Chinese water snake, which was rich in Omega-3 acids and helped reduce inflammation of joints. It actually worked fairly well for arthritis, but it began to be marketed for “everything that ails you.” Today the term is derogatorily used to describe individuals using deceptive or manipulative methods to dupe customers.
As I watch vendors at Christian Conferences, they are sincere and honest. However, they have a perspective that if everyone really used their services, the church, family, society, and nation would be much better off. I think this has always been a part of making a living and selling, but somehow, this approach seems like it has gotten worse since the advent of social media or computers. Because scaling is so much easier, we are inundated with messages that tell us that they have the solution to the problems we don’t even know we have. Mass advertising used to take place through controlled channels on TV or via the United States mail, which was costly, but now anyone and everyone can do it cheaply via the web or their favorite social platform.
The bottom line is that I can’t stop everyone else from bombarding me, but I can consciously no longer attempt to control or convince others that I have the solution for “everything that ails you.”
I can help some, but not all.
The good news is that I no longer think the world would be a better place if everyone thought as I do.