Influencing Like Jesus: 15 Biblical Principles of PersuasionInfluencing Like Jesus: 15 Biblical Principles of Persuasion
Michael Zigarelli
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The concept of leadership is not just for business, ministry, or political professionals. It's an inherent part of anyone's life who is hoping to persuade someone else in any matter of thinking or behavior, a skill to be sharpened for the good of all. Teacher and student, parent and child, friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor, at home, at work, everywhere; the element of influence is always at hand. Influencing Like Jesus is Michael Zigarelli's clearly conceived study of history's most effective and widely noted leader: Jesus, a truly persuasive figure who would sometimes have only to say, "Follow me," to change the course of a person's life.

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Michael Zigarelli is the associate professor of management at Charleston Southern University and former dean of Regent University School of Business. His research in the fields of management, practical theology, law and ethics has appeared in a number of scholarly journals and magazines. He is the author of The Minister’s MBA; Cultivating Christian Character; Ordinary People, Extraordinary Leaders; Faith at Work; and Management by Proverbs. He is the founding editor of Regent Business Review (now called Regent University Global Business Review), a magazine with subscribers in 74 countries, and the creator of and He holds a Ph.D. in Employee Management (Rutgers University), a M.A. in Industrial and Labor Relations (Cornell University), a B.A. in Economics and History (Lafayette College) and is an M.Div. candidate at Yale University, The Divinity School.


Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

God’s blessed me with a wonderful 15 year marriage, four great kids (most of the time), and a terrific ministry of teaching and writing. My passion is to make Biblical truth practical, so that people can apply it faithfully in their daily lives.

How did you become interested in writing?

I’m not sure. I started writing my first books in fourth and fifth grade (a math book and an adventure book). I didn’t get very far in either endeavor, but I guess I’ve always had an interest in writing.

What compelled you to write a book on this subject?

The desire to be a better influencer. I’ve wanted for some time to be more persuasive with my kids, my extended family, my colleagues, my neighbors, and the culture generally. I’ve also wanted to teach Christians the pathways to persuasion, so that Christians can be more effective for God’s purposes.


What is the main theme or point that you want readers to understand from reading your book? Are there any other themes present in the book?

God wants us to be influencers, and He teaches us how to be through scripture. This is the main theme in the book. Each chapter, then, is a principle, exegeted from the life and ministry of Jesus.

Are there some specific lessons you hope readers will learn and apply to their lives after reading your book?

Many. There are 15 principles in all. The most salient, perhaps, are “pray for change,” “be a person others will follow,” “know your audience,” “connect through similarity,” “tell a story,” “use social evidence,” and “create consequences.”

Do you have a favorite part of the book or a favorite chapter?

Personally, I’ve benefited from the chapter on storytelling more than any other. It’s built my skills in this area, and it’s Jesus primary pathways to persuasion.
What makes your book different than any other books similar to yours that are in circulation today?
There are very, very few books on influence/persuasion from a Christian perspective. My hope and goal was to create one that would actually build skills, not just inspire, so as an adjunct, we’ve created video teachings and a web site for folks to dig deeper into any and all principles.

How does the book intertwine with God¹s call on your life and how you are currently serving Him?

God wants me to be an influencer of college students, adult Christians, my own kids, and the entire culture. I need his influence tools to do this with excellence.

Do you have a favorite Scripture verse? What is it and why is it important to you?

1 Thess. 5:16-18. God showed me through the research I did for my book Cultivating Christian Character that the triad of being joyful, praying always, and being thankful in all circumstances is a superhighway to Christ-likeness.

Are there any authors that either influenced you personally or influenced your style of writing? Who are they and how did they influence you?

Max Lucado and Oswald Chambers. My goal in many books has been to tell stories like Lucado and have the depth of Chambers. I’ve also been positively influenced in my theology by people like Dallas Willard, CS Lewis and Richard Foster.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do? Do you have any hobbies?

Raising kids and husbanding are my current hobbies. Pretty boring, perhaps, but rewarding beyond description.

Posted 04/01/2008