“Each of us learns and uses information in different ways. It is often difficult for managers to accept help and be publicly open to suggestions. Privately they may be strongly affected by our work, and we may never know it. Pressuring clients to feel we have immediately helped them can be a tremendous obstacle to the learning we are trying to promote. If we can stay focused simply on the way we are working with clients, we will avoid compulsively pressuring the client, and the results will take care of themselves.”
I’m reading Flawless Consulting at work (one of the perks of my job — free access to hundreds of electronic and audio books!) and I came across this great quote by Peter Block. It struck me that in addition to great consulting how-to advice, Block’s words are also relevant to the Great Commission. Follow with me line-by-line as I compare this paragraph about consulting to Christian proselytizing!
“Each of us learns and uses information in different ways.”
This is as true of consulting as it is of the Christian walk. How many times have you gone to church with someone who heard a completely different sermon than you did on a given Sunday morning? How often have you rolled your eyes at someone’s ‘revelation’ from a daily devotional, or had your own ‘revelations’ met with dull, blank stares? Each person has their own unique blend of learning styles, and one of the miracles of Scripture is its ability to effectively deliver its message in so many ways to so many people. As with consulting, Christians must be sensitive to the learning and information-processing preferences of their audiences.
“It is often difficult for managers to accept help and be publicly open to suggestions. Privately they may be strongly affected by our work, and we may never know it.”
Let’s be honest: Most people don’t want you to know how much they’re hurting because they perceive pain as weakness. And often the greatest pain in a person’s life lies at the heart of their deepest, darkest secrets. The last thing people want is for someone to publicly call them out and proclaim their sin (and the corresponding cure). Instead, as the Apostle Paul claims in the New Testament, viewing our lives as a living sacrifice is the most effective evangelical tool out there. People are watching us. Do we do what we say others should do? Are we interested in responding to Jesus’ demand for self-sacrifice, or only making others live that way? Have you ever had someone tell you they’ve been silently watching you from the wings, and the way you live your life has influenced the way they live theirs? If so, you know exactly what this quote is talking about.
“Pressuring clients to feel we have immediately helped them can be a tremendous obstacle to the learning we are trying to promote.”
This is the part where people expect others’ lives to change dramatically, even supernaturally, as a result of receiving the Gospel. It’s the stuff that baptism videos are made of! We get a friend to come to church a couple of times, then act shocked when we see them behaving badly Monday morning. The kind of results-oriented pressure some folks place on seekers and newcomers to the faith is all but guaranteed to stunt real life-change in the long run. Do you want God to save peoples’ lives? Good, so do I. Now get out of the way and let Him do His job.
“If we can stay focused simply on the way we are working with clients, we will avoid compulsively pressuring the client, and the results will take care of themselves.”
And this is the part where we’re supposed to love others as we love ourselves. Instead of pressuring people into listening to our sales pitch, we should focus on how we treat other people. Love God, love others, and the rest takes care of itself. You don’t have to worry about winning souls if you focus on the way you work with others; people will naturally respond to your unique method of consulting with them in their lives. Instead of dreading those water-cooler talks with you, people will smile when they see you coming!