Reinforcing the Problem or Selling the Solution?

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Last night I was listening to a Minister to speak and it struck me how much preaching is done “at” people.

Mind you, this is a great guy and he’s a good communicator. But the subject matter was delivered in a way where if you were trying to sell the goods that were being articulated, you would want to tweak the way he was trying to influence his audience.

For example, when you’re trying to sell the idea of being physically fit, you don’t start off with a picture of some overweight, diseased individual. Rather, you show a picture of someone who’s fit, who looks good in the clothes they’re wearing and who’s sporting a big smile. The message that’s being heard is a positive one: “Here’s what you will look like – lean, toned, and happy!” As opposed to the other approach which says, “If you don’t buy what we’re selling, you’re going to look nasty, weak and miserable. “

I’m taking all this in and I’m seeing something profound. When you go through the gospels and consider all of the words written in red, rarely do you see Jesus making His point using a negative brand of reinforcement. For example, look at the Beatitudes:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:3-10)

Rather than saying, “Don’t be arrogant about your walk with God!” He says, “Those who are humble before the Lord are happy people.” And He uses this approach consistently. I can’t help but think, after looking through the majority of Jesus’ words in the New Testament, that listening to Him speak was a real treat. It’s not that there weren’t things that He said that caused me to re-evaluate where I was at in my relationship with God, but He made me want to re-evaluate my spiritual status. He made me want to do things where others would simply make me like I should be doing things.

I’m looking at what I publish in the way of podcasts and blogs and I’m seeing some real room for improvement in the way I package my stuff. No one likes to be preached at. Even if you’re not that confrontational in your tone, in order to effect the kind of result I’m hoping for, I need to make sure my content is sprinkled with a healthy helping of encouragement as opposed to being drowned in a bath of criticism.

Question: Do you catch yourself reinforcing the problem you’re trying to solve more than emphasizing the solution you’re trying to sell?

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