“Can I still persuade or motivate others?” That’s a personal question I think about regularly. This matter is related to my ongoing sense of purpose, or at least my continuing hopes to make a difference. Somewhere, somehow.
When I was employed, the answers to that question could be framed by my roles as worker, leader, producer, boss, principal or teacher. In those vocations, I had some related power that added oomph to those situations when I wanted something to take place, or someone to do something.
As those years have faded from memory and reality, I’ve realized that I can’t wave my hand or request that such-and-such a task get done. What’s left may seem like leadership leftovers, but I’m thinking that there’s also considerable power in the *coaxing/inviting abilities of older adults. Think along with me here….
There may be something similar here to God’s own attitudes and actions toward us. God’s loving coaxing extends into our souls the salvation, forgiveness and wisdom we want and need. Obedience to God’s commands is still a factor in our lives, but God’s Good News comes in the form of gentle, perhaps persistent invitations.
Unless we try to hold onto our role-related powers from earlier in life, we’ve probably learned how to persuade gently or motivate others into ways of thinking or acting. We’ve learned to listen with understanding, to cloak our opinions in respectful language and to engage others in emotionally honest and personal conversations. Love, humility and admiration can tag along with our words. We won’t seem threatening. Living in this way, we can sidestep others’ anger, pushback or resistance. Our gentle coaxing might be more effective than we realize.
I hope these thoughts provide reassurance about your similar questions! And I hope you remain powerfully persuasive.
*Sometimes I use words whose origin is unknown, humble or even vulgar. Coax may be one of them. Related to cajole in meaning, coax entered English as one way of naming a simpleton or fool. The verb meaning of coax slightly improved into “wheedling, finagling or luring with flattery”. It wasn’t until the 1840s that “gentle persuasion” added the kind of respectability that informs my use of the word here.
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