Encourage, but don't manipulate!!

For my entire life, I have had a gift of persuasion. Since I was a little kid people have always told me I would make a great sales guy. Then about 6 years ago when I graduated college, I jumped into the contract furniture industry which was at the time the 2nd most competitive and difficult industry to be successful in behind selling jet engines. However, I saw major and immediate success. I have always had a knack for getting people to make decisions that I wanted them to make. I even convinced Beth to marry me. Crazy.

This has been a huge conviction of mine because it fools me into believing that I can play the role of God. I have to be extremely careful about this, especially with the church plant. I have the ability to convince people to do things that they normally would never do. That is a lot different than inspiring people into something God sized that God wants them to do.

This past week I was listening to Pastor Furtick talk about how he built a core team and God convicted my heart. I do not want to convince people to be a part of my church plant, I want to inspire them to do something great, and allow God to convince them of what they are to do. That is not my job. My job is to encourage but not manipulate.

On Tuesday during a long trip to Raleigh at 7:00am I surrendered this to the Lord. It was harder than most would think. God exposed my own self-sufficient attitude and I needed to spend some time with Jesus in repentance and asking for his help.

On that same day (My Birthday by the way) I received 2 phone calls from 2 people who have the potential to have major influence in our church plant and being on our team. When I say major, I mean just as much influence as I or anyone else would have. They informed me that GOD, (Not me) has been speaking to them in private about the plant and they wanted to talk further about joining the team. They both felt that GOD (Not me) had brought them to the point where they needed to verbalize what God was doing in them. Nothing was set in stone, but God showed me his faithfulness through my surrender.

God is so faithful to us. If we are willing to surrender to him, he will flood our gates with things that we never knew were available to us.


Amber Shomo said...

Great post! I myself have a really hard time surrending things to God. I always feel the need to be the great fixer of all situations- even though time and time again God proves that this is the wrong attitude.

Brian Hebert said...

You'll see a lot of these kinds of techniques taught in business school, because truly motivated people are the easiest to rally behind your goals. What you call encouragement is referred to as influence in the management world. Influence (encouragement) is the preferred method of manipulation, as it forces your team members to internalize the values you want to instill. These people will fight for your cause - even in your absence – and they will go the extra mile to ensure success. They have been molded and manipulated to the point that there is no differentiation between their own values and your own. If you just relied on direct (negative) manipulation, you will have to continually micromanage those around you. They will only do the bare minimum asked of them because they are trying please you, not work toward a personal goal. For highly complex endeavors, influence is the only way to have any kind of success.

Manipulation is not an inherently good or bad thing by the way, as you can use healthy manipulation to inspire people to do very positive things. As with all things, the intent and techniques used are what ultimately determine whether or not the manipulation was effective (good).

A thought just occurred to me when writing this. If god has personally instructed you to plant this church, why are you reluctant to bring the full force of your powers of persuasion online? I understand that you do not want to wholesale abuse your sway over others, but are there ever occasions when your divine mandate takes precedent over the typical will of those around you? Since there is no doubt as to the righteousness of your cause, aren’t you then freer to push a bit harder? If god gave you this gift in order to push your fellow man to do what is good, why not drive them with the full force of your unfettered talents?

Matt Chewning said...


I want to inspire to the fullest potential however I do not want to come close to playing the role of God by manipluating people to do something for God if the are not called by God.

I hope this makes sense.

Brian Hebert said...

I understand, and I wasn't trying to spring a trap or anything :)

I was just curious how aspiring ministers use these skills, since they are very similar to what we use in the business world (as you know). In my world, the ability to manipulate is paramount, and we are encouraged to leverage it to our fullest extent. This is sometimes in the best interest of those being manipulated, and sometimes not. It is left up to us the individual to decide whether or not we are crossing any ethical lines, and obviously some of us have a clearer vision of that line than others.

My curiosity comes when the ethical uncertainty is completely removed, are there still limitations to how you can leverage your powers of persuasion? I personally struggle with the same questions you have, and I've always drifted back and forth between considering it a hindrance and a blessing. As someone who believes that god gave him this ability, I was wondering if you were more comfortable with how and to what degree you should be manipulative. There is certainly a large divide between manipulation and playing god, but I’m not always clear as to where to draw the line.