Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Thinking Critically BUT Not Throwing Out the Baby With the Bath Water

Written by: on September 19, 2018

Judith Glaser’s Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results reminded me of another famous leadership book by Dale Carnegie titled, How To Win Friends and Influence Others. Both are powerfully written, have obvious appeal in the marketplace, and are easily applicable to improving one’s own leadership. If I would have read this book 14 months ago, I would have been all aglow, counting this book as one of the greatest additions to my library since cinnamon/sugar was added to toast.

We have been trained better in the art of critical thinking, thankfully, mainly by Dr. Jason and also Derek Rowntree, in Learn How to Study: Developing the Study Sills and Approaches to Learning That Will Help You Succeed in University. So my first take on this reading was that it was full of potential yellow caution flags, like a car race in a hailstorm.

The first being that if in the wrong hands, HOW TO MANIPULATE OTHERS TO GET WHAT YOU SELFISHLY WANT, could be an alternate title for either Glaser or Carnegie’s books.  A case in point, when Glaser interjects (often) about the power of “we”, I have been trained to ask, “You and Who?  Do you have mouse in your pocket?”

I can only imagine the number of people who have tried to get our fellow Elite8 Cohort member Mark to fund THEIR project while attempting to get him to believe they were always in this together, as in “we”.  As the Vice-President of Advancement at Rocky Mountain College, being the chief fund-raiser, I was often told by VERY expensive consultants that donors should not be given options for their generosity, instead it needed to be explained to them about what the college’s highest priorities were, and then be convinced that “we” were working together to solve the problem by “them” writing a massive check.

I decided early on that I couldn’t sleep peacefully at night by employing those methods, so I decided instead to listen to my donors, get to know their stories and what they were passionate about, only then couple their passion with an appropriate project or program. Three years later, and over 21 million dollars raised, we found numerous alumni who funded “relationships” and “memories” ahead of sales pitches, smoke and mirrors. Alumni wrote bigger checks when they weren’t manipulated into doing so. Made my job a lot easier. And I didn’t have to be a back slapping’ butt kisser.

And that is where my thoughts about this book turned to the highly positive.

The premise of Conversational Intelligence is: “To get to the next level of greatness depends on the quality of our culture, which depends on the quality of our relationships, which depends on the quality of our conversations. Everything happens through conversations!” [1]

Yes, relationships (with memories), and conversations (telling stories)! Glaser nailed it in my opinion. Communication between friends is the key. Add to that the three levels of conversation:

Level I–transactional (how to exchange data and information); Level II–positional (how to work with power and influence); and Level III–transformational (how to co-create the future for mutual success). [2]

Wow! She nailed it again. We are getting somewhere. Intuitively, without manipulation, listening to  their heart, all the while looking for ways to mutually work together to make the future successful.  I like it!

My favorite sections in the book centered around “The backstory on trust and distrust” [3], “Our bodies do most of our talking” [4], and “Our brains were designed to make movies” [5]. I now understand why it was so hard to find reviews against our author (although I cheated and read Mike’s Blog. He found a naysayer. Mike is a better researcher than I am).

Which brings me full circle, using this book as it relates to my focus for my dissertation, namely Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, and whether or not a local church benefits with an increase in their tithes after facilitating the class.

A mere mention of the word “tithe” and barriers go up. Pastors sometimes shy away from teaching on this sensitive subject because it might be perceived as manipulative. Congregants might think the pastor is only trying to get more salary while he separates the people in the pews from their wallets. Congregants don’t much like hearing about it, maybe out of guilt, or perhaps because it seems so legalistic. Glaser speaks strongly when saying:

Use honesty at all times…at all times, tell the truth–tactfully and within the appropriate context..context does not mean spin. Don’t make the situation sound better than it is, even if you can. [6] {my bold added}

“Spin” in the case of describing the tithe, would be emphasizing prosperity, in the form of getting a nicer car or the house of your dreams. Not necessary! Yes, we know God blesses the giver, that it is more blessed to give than receive, but it should not be our motivation (or manipulation) to give. But let’s tell the truth, generosity through tithing (as a first-fruit, not as a left-over) when done appropriately with the right heart, is full of joy, for God blesses a joyful sharer with His eternal blessings, like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

II Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  [7}

So the most effective “ask” for a tithe is a person who tells their transformational story, of going from a tight-fisted existence to a generous heart, putting their trust in God and his provision, while experiencing His financial peace! We can all listen and respond to that kind of story…

[1].Glaser, Judith E. Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results. Bibliomotion Inc, 2016. XV.

[2] Ibid., XXIV.

[3] Ibid., 24.

[4] Ibid., 79.

[5] Ibid., 38.

[6] Ibid., 174.

[7]. Barker, Kenneth L. Zondervan NIV Study Bible: New International Version. Zondervan, 2008.


About the Author

Jay Forseth

Superintendent of the Western Conference of the Evangelical Church. Blessed with 28 years as the husband of my amazing wife who I can't make it without. Now three of four in our family are attending University, but both my children are way smarter than me.

8 responses to “Thinking Critically BUT Not Throwing Out the Baby With the Bath Water”

  1. Nice critical thinking here. Yes, I do think some of these techniques could be manipulative. And I agree with you about fundraising. My hubby and I refuse to use guilt or to sugar-coat our ministry. We know of missionaries who have used photoshop to remove wine bottles from their photos because they knew they would lose supporters if the supporters found out that the missionary drank wine. We tell our supporters up front–“Hey, we live in France; Wine is part of the culture. If you have a problem with us drinking then you probably should not join our support team.” We refuse to be inauthentic for a buck !

  2. Interesting perspective, Jay!

    You mention that, you addressed the needs of donors differently and came up with successful results. You state, “I decided early on that I couldn’t sleep peacefully at night by employing those methods, so I decided instead to listen to my donors, get to know their stories and what they were passionate about, only then couple their passion with an appropriate project or program.” I find that the same type of implementation works when recruiting sponsors for LOUD Summit. It has to be a two-way street that benefits both parties and meets the needs of the donor.

    Glasser does delves into the psychological and behavioural reactions that many people have when confronted with a manipulative conversation. The author observes that, “When we are trapped in our need to be right, we want to win, we fight to win, and we go into overdrive trying to persuade others to our point of view” (Glasser 2014, 7). The art of persuasion can sometimes replace the art of preparation and prayer. People sense our desperation and they shut down because they distrust our motives. What are ways that you have been able to build trust with your donors? Do you find that many Christians stop at level I conversations? Why or why not?

    • Jay Forseth says:

      Hi Colleen,

      Just hours away from everyone getting to meet you face to face. We are all excited about that.

      Yes, unfortunately, many Christians stop at level one conversations, I don’t think out of spite, but certainly due to busyness and mistrust. Like Glaser said, moving to trust is the key!

      Sounds like you are a great communicator, and also a great writer. Keep up the good work.

  3. Mark Petersen says:

    Great post, Jay!

    And, yes, I’ve definitely experienced a lot of what you’ve described.

    Your alternative approach is refreshing and bang-on. I have a vision for each charitable organization that surrounding its mission-table are all stakeholders – including beneficiaries and even donors – enjoying a beautiful meal together. This is in contrast to the sad transaction model where donors are treated like ATMs, and all you need is a secret code for access.

  4. M Webb says:

    Good job on the critical analysis. Elder would be proud! Yes, “we” uses can create suspicion for sure. I like the way you tied Glaser’s work to your dissertation on Mr. R’s “distrust” university. (my interpretation of your feelings on his work)
    You know, tithing is not a dirty word, but in my personal experience tithing does require a closer walk with the Lord and the conviction of the Holy Spirit to move in a spiritually healthy direction. I do not see much “We” in that revelation, but instead the influence and conviction from the big “Three” or Trinity who causes that action, which has very little to do with us. I think it is more than obedience that reduces the tension on giving or not giving, but a changed heart, mind, and spiritual victory and release from the deceptive schemes of the devil who introduces so much doubt and confusion to most tithers.
    The most effective “ask” I know resides in the supernatural preparation, conviction, urge, and compulsion given by the Holy Spirit. Anything else, to quote a wise King, is just vanity.
    See you in HK!
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

  5. Jason Turbeville says:

    Excellent post. I too approached this book with a little trepidation but was pleasantly surprised. The tithe sermon is always my most difficult. I never want to manipulate someone out of their money but I also know how God blesses when we are obedient. Not blessings as the world sees but being able to know that I am following what God is calling me to be and do with what he has already given me is such a blessing. Thanks for the great post brother.


  6. Dan Kreiss says:

    Super stuff here Jay. I really appreciate how you put Glaser through the crucible allowing the dross to separate before you find the pure gold. I need to learn from your critical reading methods. I also appreciate your explanation of your role in advancement and the unorthodox methods of fundraising you employed. As I am currently working in a struggling University institution I appreciate your candor about the limits of the sales pitch approach to securing donations. I wish our advancement team could learn from you. See you in a couple days.

  7. Greg says:

    It is tough even in our Christian world to feel like we have to say and do what we think another person wants us to do in order to get a benefit. I too appreciated your approach to listening while not manipulating.

    I love the approach of talking about tithing letting God speak through his witnesses rather than a manipulative sermon. Good words brother.

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