Does anyone else love negotiating? No? No one else?
It’s pretty rare I meet someone my age who enjoys it as much as I do. The few times I’ve been able to buy or sell cars, the negotiation process has been my favorite.
My Papa taught me how to negotiate as a child and he would take to me to the flea market to practice. I became a ruthless negotiator! I think, more often than not, I ended up getting the deal because they didn’t expect the ten year old to make a counter offer.
In my sophomore year of college, I roomed with Ian Clardy. This dude is the man. Our vision was to have the coolest dorm room at Vanguard University. There’s no doubt in my mind we achieved it. I only slightly contributed; Ian had the TV, sound system, and sweet decorations. But, what’s the one thing that makes for a great hangout in a college dorm room? A huge couch!
Our search began to find the biggest and comfiest couch within our budget. We finally found a huge one we could squeeze into the room if we arranged our dorm perfectly. The listing price was $80, but I knew I could get it down. I was even looking forward to showing Ian my skills! Whatever price we landed on, we agreed to split the cost.
I needed Ian’s help to carry the couch, so we drove together to pick it up. As we drove over there, I told him I would take the lead. Just in case, I decided to give him the basics of negotiating so he wouldn’t hinder the process. There are two keys: emphasize your strong suits and downplay theirs. Here’s how it should work:
Downplay: It’s not bad, but there’s a lot of stains and the cushion is sunken in.
Emphasize: We have cash and can take it off your hands right now.
I wanted to make sure Ian wouldn’t comment on how great the couch is (even though we both loved it from the pictures on Craigslist). Ian confidently assured me he understood, and then I felt bad wondering if I was coming off as micromanaging.
We finally arrived. As soon as the woman let us in, Ian plopped down on the couch. He looked over with his eyes open the size of billiard balls and emphatically yelled “DUUUUUDE!!! WE NEED TO GET THIS COUCH! IT’S SOOOOOOO COMFORTABLE!!!!!”
Needless to say, we ended up paying full price. I still give Ian a hard time about it.
The truth is negotiating in the Kingdom of God is completely different. I could have told a story of my successful negotiating, but the couch story is unbeatable.
Today was Missions Sunday at church and the pastor asked everyone to pray and consider making a faith promise for the year. I have a huge heart for missions and love giving to support it, but this year was different. I took a ministry job that nearly cut my salary in half and with our baby at home, Kaleigh can’t work in the same capacity either. Our beautiful daughter Karis has Cerebral Palsy and needs more time for development therapy. We had incurred some debt on top of our student loans while living in California and we have been living on a rigorously tight budget to make up for it. Maybe this is TMI, but I hope it gives context.
So, when the pastor asked us to pray about how much to give, I told God I was going to take this year off until we could pay off our debt. After some work, God convinced me to give $10. It wasn’t in the budget, but I wanted my heart to be committed to missions. I kept my heart open and God wanted me to believe for a miracle. There was a time (when we didn’t have a child) where $100 would have been chump change, but this was heart wrenching for me. I finally settled it in my heart.
One thing Kaleigh and I practice is testing the Lord’s will by revealing what we hear God speaking at the same time. This is a great tool for accountability in generosity. Many times we have come up with amounts which were very close. This time when we shared, Kaleigh said $400! What! Craziness!
This is when my negotiating habits kicked in. I said, “How about we meet in the middle at $250?” I was immediately convicted. I asked her to hold on a minute instead so I could consider.
I asked God what He thought we should give and He said, “negotiating in my kingdom doesn’t work how you’re used to.”
As always, He was right. We ended up giving a faith promise of $400. After church, Kaleigh and I had a great discussion about negotiating God’s way. We’ve decided to approach giving as a married couple in this way for the rest of our lives. Whoever has the greater heart of generosity wins! This is very counterintuitive for me, but I believe God will provide in miraculous ways when we step out in faith. I’ve seen Him do it more times than I can count, and I’ve never seen Him not come through. Jehovah Jireh – my provider.