“And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.”
Stubbornness isn’t always a badge of honor. Paul was too stubborn to listen to those around him who cared enough to tell him that going to Jerusalem to observe the feast was the wrong thing to do. It wasn’t just one person who told Paul not to go, but it was several people who warned him through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. However, Paul “would not be persuaded.” No matter how carefully and insistently they tried to keep him from doing something wrong, he would not listen. To their credit, they realized that the only thing they could do was to cease trying to persuade him and to leave it up to the LORD to deal with him.
Have you ever tried to persuade someone not to do something that you knew was not the right thing for them to do? There have been scores of times in my ministry that I have warned and pleaded with people not to do something, but they did it anyway. When you come to a situation like this, you must be very careful that you don’t drive the person away to the point that they would never come back to you in their time of need. Let me share some advice on how to deal with people who will not be persuaded.
First, be sure that you are right. Just because you feel something is right doesn’t make it right. You must know, based on God’s Word or experience, that what someone is about to do is the wrong thing to do or the wrong way to go. You will drive people away if you try to persuade them to do or not to do something and they know that it’s simply a personal whim.
Second, don’t force the issue; this only leads to contention. Too many people don’t know when to stop and create contention because of their insistence. Going over the same thing three or four times is not going to change anyone’s mind. In fact, it only causes them to become more stubborn towards what they are doing. Learn that warning someone once or twice is enough, and then leave it alone.
Third, leave the situation to the LORD. Just like these people gave it to the LORD to deal with Paul, you must wash your hands and leave it to God. God can work on the heart of an individual must better than you can. At some point you must give it to the LORD when you have tried to persuade someone about doing or not doing something.
Fourth, take comfort in the fact that the LORD can turn a bad situation into a good thing. God is the master of turning bad things around into tools that He can use for good. You must trust that the LORD can turn whatever the situation you are trying to persuade someone into doing or not doing into a good thing, even if they do what they are not supposed to do.
Fifth, pray for the person instead of fighting against them or preaching at them. I have learned that continually preaching to a person about something they are doing that is not right only pushes them further away. If you truly care for the person you are trying to persuade about a situation; you must continue to pray for them after you stop trying to persuade them.
Sixth, be there for them when their way turns bad. Don’t let your pride get in the way of helping someone who has realized that you were right in the first place. Don’t tell them that you were right because they know it, but help them get their life back on track so they can be used by God again.