There's always a hook. You know?
OK, so you don't.
Let me tell you.
Today we drove to the top end of the island so Beve and I could sit through a '60 minute' presentation, just to claim the 25% off Aloha card at the end. This coveted card will see to it that a prohibitively expensive luau is only very expensive instead.
So we got ourselves together (I was going to say we got up early, but none of us has acclimated to island time so even I am getting up early this week), got on the road and drove the coastal road which afforded us gorgeous views of the island mountain range on one side and the Pacific blue on the other--and verdant foliage in-between. It was a lovely, bright morning for a drive and we were glad to be out in it. Glad to be here on this island, sharing life together for this week.
We reached our destination in time for our appointment, waved our (lucky) friends goodbye, and stepped into a cacophony. Seriously. It was like an estate sale, or a used car lot where a new truck-load had just come in, or...well, like people were trying to sell people something. Yikes, we thought.
We've sat through such appointments before. And though we know how this game is played, we're never quite ready for them and always assume we'll be taken at our first, second and final word. But we aren't. We met 'our' saleswoman, told her flat-out, before our waists had bent and our seats landed in the chairs that we would NOT be buying what they were selling. Not today. Thank you very much. The end.
She understood, she told us. She wouldn't take much of our time, she said. But her actions didn't line up with her words. She had a script to follow (and plenty of paper to destroy in the process--really, why did she have to write just three or four things on each full sheet then move to the next? That waste alone should have sent us out the door), a script which included showing us things we didn't care to see, calling over her manager to make the hard pitch.
And that hard pitch, by a young woman who looked younger than our youngest daughter--it probably works on many or most who walk through the doors. Maybe. But from our point of view, it was at least hard of hearing and at most, disrespectful. And did nothing to further their stated objective of trying to get us to buy what we'd already told them we wouldn't buy.
We finally got out of there.
And we told our friends, "That better be a REALLY, REALLY good pig!" (at the luau)
Later, as we wound our way back down the island, I thought of how yucky it feels to be stuck like that. Beve and I were trained to be polite and are, by nature and faith, truthful. Yet we weren't dealt with in a similar fashion. We weren't heard. Sixty minutes, we'd been promised. No hard sell, we'd been told. Instead it was 120 minutes and hard as concrete push. And it all made the lush, gorgeous morning turn a little gritty and grimy. Not at all what a vacation should feel like. Not at all what they claimed they wanted us to have.
But I wonder how often I do the same kind of 'hard sell' to others. How often do I push my point of view on them without considering whether they agree with me or not? Do I allow those around me to say no without trying to influence their thinking because I know--I KNOW--they'd be better off if they agreed with me? Of course I do this. I know it as clearly as I know my own name. I think my way of thinking is the right way even about such things that are morally neutral. This is a dangerous way to live with others. It's a sure way NOT to see come to faith those whom we love and pray and hope and believe for.
This is not to say that we should soft-peddle the gospel. No way, no how. We should tell it straight, tell it true, and tell Him like He is. Always. However, what it does mean is that we cannot drill-sargent someone into heaven. We can't double-team them to salvation. We must listen to those with whom we are in dialogue. Well, dialogue is the perfect word, come to think of it, for what must pass between us. We must listen to those around us. Listen to who they are, where they are, look for the moments when they are asking for Him--and then speak as He leads.
I guess that's the point. Not with a hook. Not with a crowbar trying to bend them into something they aren't ready to be or do. Not hard selling but seeking His Kingdom. Carefully and clearly and fully and completely, seeking FIRST His Kingdom.
Then all these things--those we love, those we would see come to Him--will be added.
Not to mention, all these things we might possibly need for our own selves.
Seeking first His Kingdom.
No hard sell to that.
Think of the rewards. It's a whole banquet.
In the long run, so much better than some 25% off (still pretty pricey) luau!