STEP THREE: Commitment - Do it!

Philemon 17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.

1. Make your request or suggestion with humility.

Paul has already suggested what he wants - that is to keep Onesimus as a helper. However, Paul is not pushing for his desire. But he now spells out in clear terms what he is willing to push for - that Philemon accept his runaway slave Onesimus as if he were Paul himself.

This was the point of Paul's letter. And it doesn't come until seventeen verses into it.

What does this tell you?

It should tell you that if you want to influence the people in your life, you need to work on the relationship you have with these people first. And even when you have a good relationship with someone, you need to proceed with tact.

What is tact?

Tact is giving the other person space to disagree with you. Tact is giving the other person space so that they can tell you their point of view, freely and easily.

Try this: In the next conversation you have with someone you know well, make a note on how many times you or the other person states an opinion as if it were an established fact. It might be a conversation about how something works, or about the government, or other people, or what some church committee should or shouldn't do.

Notice how things are said. "The people at my work just don't have a clue.”

"The government can't do anything right.”

"John has no idea what he is doing.”

"The building and grounds committee at church sure blew it with the color of the new carpet.”

Now, perhaps when you say things like this you feel you are just telling the plain and simple facts. But why not say what you know - your facts - with some tact.

How do you say things with tact, and what does that do?

Tact is what Paul does. He finally gets to the point of his letter to Philemon, and how does he proceed? He uses the word "if.” Paul says, "If you consider me a partner ...” The word "if” gives space to Philemon. Space for Philemon to work out what he truly thinks about Paul's request.

Someone comes up to you and gives their opinion about what and how you should do something. And they tell you in a "this is the way it is” kind of manner. You either have to just go along with their suggestion or, if you don't want to do that, you must now engage that person in a battle.

When someone brings a strong opinion to the table, you either have to go with it, or you will need an equally strong comeback. If you do the former, you are like the little boy who was sitting down on the outside but standing up on the inside. If you do the latter, you will have a fight on your hands.

If only people would give their opinion with an "if.”

How do you do that? Start an interaction like this ...

In my opinion ...

It seems to me ...

As I recall, it went this way ...

If you want my opinion ...

You make a good point, but here is another way to look at it.

Each one of these discussion starters give space to the other person. The person you are talking to can freely voice their concerns and objections without getting all emotional about it. Why? You have given them space.

Try these discussion starters out on people and see how it makes a difference.

You will find that when you give people space, time to think, and even time to object to your proposal, more often than not they will eventually come to your way of thinking.

We forget that most people are quite fragile and are easily threatened. Add to this that most do not like change and will, as a matter of course, be negative at any suggestion of change.

Time is needed.

So voice your concerns, your desires, your opinions in a way that preserves the ego of the other and gives them space to discuss and gradually come to your way of thinking.


Philemon 1:17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.

Paul has told Philemon what he really would like - to keep Onesimus as a helper. Paul is not pushing for this desire. Instead, he spells out, in no uncertain terms, what he is willing to push for - that Philemon accept his runaway slave Onesimus as if he were Paul himself. How do you think Philemon reacted to this request?

Why do we often hint at or joke about or dance around what we really want to ask of someone, especially with those close to us?

Instead of telling people exactly what we are thinking or wanting, we hope they will somehow just figure it out. Do you often do this?

Notice Paul makes his request only after he has spent a considerable amount of time building up his relationship with Philemon. Why is this a good idea?

Salespeople build a relationship just to make a sale (at least that is often our perception of salespeople). How do we do the work of building a relationship without doing so just to "make a sale”?

Last modified: Monday, August 13, 2018, 9:08 AM