Great title, huh? You probably have no idea what this means unless you live in certain parts of the southern United States. I am a southern boy. I cannot help where I was born and raised. If you hear me speak, you will hear a blend of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Georgia, and “the preacher accent”. To sum it up, it’s in my blood.
If you are wondering what the title means, I would rephrase it to say that a kind approach gets you further than a harsh approach. Your delivery can determine how well someone will receive what you have to say. I’ll give you an example. When I was 21, I began serving in a church as interim worship pastor until they called someone permanently. I was very timid and unsure of myself. An older man in the church approached me about how I would sit down before the service rather than interact with the people. His approach was perfect, but I was still offended. I naturally lean toward being an introvert, so I pushed myself to act like I was running for political office before the next Wednesday night service. Initially, it was done in spite. Eventually, I broke out of my shell and all the grannies were asking for hugs. Back then, they called me the “little choir director”. That used to bother me. Now I embrace when someone says something about me being young. This man helped me more than he will ever realize.
Had that man approached me hatefully, my response would have been different. I would not have had the respect for this man as I do. He may have gone to my “mean-spirited church people” list.
Proverbs 15:1 says that a soft answer turns away wrath. The sad part is that those who possess the truth can often be the harshest people when it comes to how they deliver their message. I have seen ugly word wars online between people who profess to know Christ. One person possesses one interpretation while the other belittles them and calls them ignorant. Legalism makes people hateful. The sad reality is that legalists think they are holding fast to the truth while everyone else is a compromiser. They do not realize how hateful they are in the name of trying to convert people to their version of the truth. It does not matter how harshly I write because my harshness will not change your mind or convert you to my way of thinking. My harshness will most likely provoke you to rebellion, and you will want nothing to do with me or what I try to communicate.
I challenge each of you to allow God to guide your words and your delivery. You can be firm without being harsh. Aim for balance. You might be surprised by the end result.