The Art of Persuasion


If you have a way with words you have the art of persuasion. That may be a positive or a negative trait depending on your character.

I loved speech class in high school. It was where I first found my voice. Before that class I was easily intimidated and wasn’t much for speaking out. I did not have faith in my abilities. The high school counselor questioned my choice as it didn’t seem to fit what others saw. I fell in love with speech and writing. I remember when I got an A+ on a humorous speech; I was amazed. I had agonized over the assignment. I was not a funny person. Apparently somewhere inside of me when it came to writing I could be funny. That speech pulled something out of me I never knew I had.

Fast forward to 2021. We seem to be in the throws of being persuaded by the words of people we do not know and we give them unswerving loyalty. They are good speechmakers, influencers, and persuaders. It’s funny but we tend to believe those whom we do not know over people we formerly trusted, all because of good verbal persuasion. We don’t see the need to check out the facts.

It’s apparent in society today. Some are pursuaded to send money to men or women overseas who they form a relationship with on the internet. They trust what they are being fed in the beautiful words they see on the screen or hear on the phone. The talk shows and news reports are full of people being scammed all in the name of love.

We pass around on social media those ads that say Kohl’s or Best Buy are going to give us $500 just for sharing a post. We share and no one sees the money. We believed without questioning that if a company did this they would be broke. The scams are rampant all because we believe charismatic words of a stranger.

Recently someone made the comment, “He’s such a Christian man.” The comment was made about a politician that said a beautiful prayer at the right time in front of millions of people. I’m not saying this person isn’t a Christian man. But the conclusion was this person prays a lot in public it and makes him someone we should believe and follow. But do we really know that? Do we know them in person?

There are televangelists that woo us with beautiful prayer, and dynamic sermons. If you look at their bank account you know they are successful at persuasion because people are tossing a lot of money at them. Maybe they do good things with the money but if you look at their lifestyle, it is a very lavish life they are living. Yet we don’t protest their power of persuasion. Their power is growing and our churches in our communities are floundering.

I am not a flowery prayer person despite being a writer. If I listen and read all these beautiful prayers in all the media today I tend to feel my prayers may not be good enough. I’ve gotten over that for a few reasons.

My faith has been built not on flowery prayers but on actions of people I love and trust, not by those that are always in the public eye praying for all to see, or persuading us with their charismatic speech.

When I think of the Christians in my life that have influenced me I think of my Grandma Krock. She could speak no English but she had a big impact on me by her actions. Each day she would sit by the window in her house or by the wood stove with a rosary in her hands praying the rosary. I don’t remember many conversations that I understood but I understood her faith and her rosary. I watched this until she died when I was 17.

Grandma Krock

I think of my Aunt Mary who every night after supper would sit down with her Bible, read it and pray quietly in her living room. I was young when I noticed that and I remember it still today.

I think of my friend Jan, who endured 24 years of cancer. I never heard her complain. She treated everyone with kindness and respect and I saw her live out her faith in her church attendance, her music and private time with the Lord. Plus keeping her faith always while enduring much.

These people who affected my faith life, didn’t shout it in public, didn’t shout their faith from the rooftops but by their actions they brought their faith to others in a way that was humble.

These three are only a few examples of the people in our lives that quietly lead us. I can’t say someone is one thing just by the words they produce in public. I know too many people who are one way in the public eye and another in private. Some may see me as that way. Perception. Can we view something honestly, if we only have the glitz of the public eye?

That doesn’t mean I don’t follow and read some prominent Christian writers. Max Lucado is one of my favorite. Do I think he’s a good Christian man? Yes, I do but do I know? I don’t know him personally. That doesn’t stop me from liking what he writes but also viewing it with an eye that knows there may be more underneath that isn’t what I read, so I know not to believe unconditionally. I write fiction for a living. What I write is my perspective, to be read with a watchful eye and mind knowing it is fiction. In today’s world I probably could convince someone that fictional Fuchsia exists.

Churches, our churches, have a hard time maintaining members. We throw money at online preachers but starve our churches. We believe charismatic people and belittle our Pastors. We put our trust in strangers words but don’t believe the words of those we know preaching in our hometown churches.

If you’re looking for church, most of our local community churches are now online. Listen to those you trust. Are they perfect? No. But you know them. You know their imperfections and their strengths. Put your trust in those you know personally.

Having said that I will tell you I love my church being online. I get why we follow popular online preachers. We can listen without getting involved in church politics. When I watch my church services online I love sitting back and hearing what is being said and sung, with my eyes closed savoring the words. I am not distracted by anyone else.

In my old years, thinking back, I realize some of the greatest controversy in my life has been church politics, arguing about things that don’t matter. I am not referencing biblical beliefs but insignificant things that gain too much importance in our home churches, such as who didn’t stack the silverware or who isn’t dressing in the correct way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “It isn’t done that way.” In fact I’ve been told at one time my opinion on whether a group could meet in our church didn’t matter, because we weren’t one of the top givers. So I get it. Online we don’t have to deal with the church politics that are man made. Maybe that’s why it’s easier to believe and follow the people who are eloquent speakers that we don’t know because we don’t have to get involved.

At times, I have the art of persuasion. With it, comes a responsibility. My advice, look to what you know, the people you know and respect in your life. Look deep at how they live their lives. That’s the best persuasion.

Thank you Grandma Krock, Aunt Mary and Jan for letting me know what it means to be a Christian person. It’s up to me what I do with that.

What Would Happen if God Became Our Business?

When I wrote this column I was skeptical about publishing it. I like to be fluffy because in our world today there are so many serious and sad things. For some reason this was on my heart to write. My editor pointed me to this song on youtube by Delbert McClinton. I hadn’t heard it before but it seemed to fit and make what I said a little more lighthearted. I am posting the video at the end of the column. Thanks for your patience.

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf – Column from Albert Lea Tribune September 15, 2014

I rarely write about religion and politics. I prefer to stay out of controversial subjects but for some reason as I was struggling with a topic for this week’s column, and reading a morning blessing by Susie Larson, Christian speaker and author, it sparked a thought and it seemed I should write about it.

This thought came to me after reading her morning blessing: What would happen if God became your business? And when I say the word business, it is just that, a business that we throw ourselves into and run, work hard at and takes precedence above other things in our lives.

The words that sparked that thought were these: May your heart of compassion grow for those who suffer in unimaginable ways. May you pray as passionately for them as you do for yourself.

I thought about my prayers. They always seem to be a dash here and a dash there in between my business and other daily activities. I may sit for a few moments in the morning and in the evening and dash out prayers in between, but business usually is a priority. I am in the business now of writing to help support myself. I do what I accuse many institutions of doing: I put finances first and God second.

I get fed along the way during my day by snippets and prayers from Susie Larson and other Christian writers and speakers who speak to my heart. But what would happen if I turned that around and made God my business. What would happen if I worked at prayer as hard as I worked at writing? The thought then crosses my mind that I shouldn’t have to work at prayer. If my mind seems muddled writing this it means I am also having a hard time wrapping my brain around this thought.

Some churches might say that they are in the business of God. Many are, and others may say they are in the business of God, but like me, finances are their business, as the churches are now run as a business and the rest takes second fiddle. What would happen if prayer and God took priority and finances took second place?

We have all heard the stories of being dropped from church rolls because no money had been dropped into a collection plate from an individual in a long time. We have all heard the stories of not being able to participate in an activity in church because it is too expensive. Many churches now are a business, run like a business and certain protocol and traditions that need to be followed take precedence over teaching about prayer and praying. They no longer rely on prayer and God to know that he will provide. They rely on accountants and tax people to keep the doors open.

That may seem harsh, but then I am being harsh on myself, too. My business is important, and so I pay attention. I am focused and not easily distracted. I am able to put other things aside and focus on the priority of making my business a success.

Larson said, “Pray as passionately for others as you do for yourself.”

I don’t know unless I have hit the bottom, if I pray much for myself. Maybe I do in bits and pieces, to help me to do a task. I know I prayed for inspiration for a column this morning and what came to me were the words: What would happen if you made God your business?

I think of my Grandma sitting in a chair by her window always praying the rosary, every day, a couple of times a day. I think of the priority in my family while I was growing up, church, prayer at meals, prayer at bedtime and family prayer. I think of my aunt every night sitting down with her bible for hours, reading and praying. Prayer was a priority no matter what was happening, what TV programs were on or what was taking place on a Sunday morning in the community.

Were their lives better because of it? I don’t know. Was my life better because of it? I think so although at the time I didn’t. There was something grounding about prayer. Perhaps those days’ churches were businesses too like the business my father ran, but I was too young to know.

There is a difference now.  Our businesses are social media, sports, jobs that make money to put food on the table and whatever else we work hard at, we are passionate about, and we believe in. We work hard at those things we are passionate about.

We might look at people who indeed make God their business, such as those who write books, speak and influence people lives, with skepticism. Do they get lost in the monetary part of their business and forgot the prayer part, too? We have seen that happen, and we have seen the scams.

Whether you believe in God or a higher power or a different form of religion than Christian, have you asked yourself what would happen if you worked as passionately at prayer as you do at your profession that feeds your family or the hobbies that feed your passion?

If you belong to a church, ask yourself if they are as passionate about prayer as they are about putting money in their coffers?

And then look at yourself, because I think that is what my message while reading Susie Larson’s blessing this morning is possibly about. What would happen if I were as passionate about prayer as I am about my business? If we all asked ourselves that question and pondered it, would the world change for the better?