[Updated from the archives for this post election season.]
I don’t think an argument has ever changed my heart. Sure arguments might change minds, but only love changes hearts. In fact, I think most people would rather be encouraged than yelled at, supported than chastised, and loved than argued with.
It’s not that I don’t love a good argument. I do. My career depends on a good argument. I even have hearings in the courtroom that depend on oral and written argument.
But even the best-reasoned position is markedly less effective when it is delivered poorly.
As I’ve advised counsel on rare occasion, “Petulance is rarely a persuasive form of argument.” You could substitute “chastisement” and “berating” or similar words for “petulance” and get the same gist. Love – whether through patience, kindness, listening more than talking, showing respect – works better than all of them.
Lecturing is not the way to change most people’s hearts or minds. Sure, you might get at their mind if your argument is presented respectfully. The better course is to present an argument not only respectfully but lovingly. They are not always the same thing.
I hope to always keep in mind that it takes love to change a heart. It’s the way of God.
God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance. (Romans 2:4.)