“The wise are known for their understanding, and pleasant words are persuasive.” Proverbs 16:21

Let’s all think about this powerful proverb for a minute.  Let’s ask ourselves if we are seekers of understanding.  Let’s examine what we do when we find ourselves in situations where we feel the need to persuade.

Raising a family within a Christian context is a deeply personal matter.  Advocating for the needs of others, especially those who are vulnerable in our society, is also deeply personal.  The values that drive our social, political and spiritual views oftentimes instinctively cause us to go on the offensive, or defensive depending on the circumstances.

We see a lot of this these days in our social media and on television! It is rare to see someone taking the time to understand someone else’s point of view and what lies behind it. And even rarer to see the art of persuasion practiced with a pleasant tone.  The cultural norms of our society are increasingly confrontational and self-centered.

As Christians, we have the biblical guidelines on how we can care for each other.  Have you considered how important these guidelines are to healing a divided nation or persuading a traumatized child to allow us to love them as Christ loves them?

Be ready to listen, and slow to speak.

We have shared a lot about Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), the intervention approach we are now embracing throughout our programs here at BFC.  One of the precepts of this approach is giving children “voice.”  An excerpt from “The Healing Power of Giving Voice,” by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross describes this best:

“Tragically, too many children do not come from homes or situations in which the adults are able to love them and give them voice. Because of their histories, these children and youth must be taught they have a powerful gift – a voice – and that they also have caregivers who want to listen and understand their words and their needs. Purposeful, deliberate parents and caregivers can restore this lost gift of voice and, in so doing, begin to provide connection, trust, hope, and healing for these children who have come from difficult places.”

I hope we can all work harder to practice this more patient and kind method of listening and persuasion.  Who knows, we may learn something about the stories and needs of others.