Have you heard the saying, “normal is just a setting on your dryer”? Well it’s a catchy phrase, it’s cute, and in many ways, it’s true. Actually we all have our own understanding of “normal.” You may have a friend or a coworker whose normal includes being the victim of consistent manipulation.
Realize God may call you to help someone come face to face with the patterns of manipulation. When you’re given that opportunity, help your friend understand and recognize that God alone is our true need-meeter. He’s the only one who can meet our deepest inner needs for love, significance and security.
Be ready to share God’s hope and help. It can make all the difference in the world!
Are your thoughts, emotions, and actions frequently controlled by a domineering spouse, boss, or friend? Do you ever feel like a puppet—as if someone is pulling your “strings” like a cleverly maneuvered marionette? No one should exercise control over your life like that. In these Keys for Living, discover why some people are prone to manipulation, and how to cut the strings that control you and be set free. If you are a manipulator, you’ll learn how to let go of control and lean on God who alone is sufficient to meet all your needs.
Do you see yourself as being “power-hungry”? Power plays an intimate role in each of our lives. We all have a need to control our circumstances. In childhood, we throw tantrums to get our way. By adulthood, we’ve mastered the art of manipulation. In fact, you could be a manipulator, or the one being manipulated, and not even realize it!
Manipulation isn’t wrong only because it’s dishonest and selfish. Manipulation happens when humans take control of their own circumstances in order to have their needs met. We’re not designed to meet our own needs. Only God can do that. He’s designed your heart to need Him. He’s made the world to thrive under His power. Trust the One who directs the birds’ song, commands the seas, and knows the stars by name. Ask Him to help you surrender your heart. With your life in His hands instead of your own, you’ll find lasting security.
Attempts to control our own world begin with the first breath of life. A baby’s natural cry, called the “cry for attention,” represents the first efforts at getting our needs met. Over the years, children can learn to use manipulative tears to get their way within their little circle of life. As we grow into adults, we develop highly refined personal skills for meeting our needs by taking matters into our own hands and manipulating people and events around us. These methods of control are so deeply ingrained that we lack personal insight into our own deceptive behavior. Most of us are more aware of the manipulation of others than of our own “string-pulling.” But maturity demands that we lay bare before God our need to control and that we begin the process of trusting the One who is in ultimate control.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
“You shall have no other gods before me.”
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
1 Peter 3:15
With his great God-given strength, Samson could have delivered Israel from the oppression of the enemy—the Philistines. But he fell in love with a prostitute. At the request of the Philistine rulers who wanted to capture him, she began to cajole Samson into telling her the secret of his strength. After three failed attempts, she finally said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me?” (Judges 16:15). What manipulation! Ultimately, she wore him down with her words, nagging and prodding him, until he told her the truth (Judges 16:16–17)
“Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding in the prison.”
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
For the One Manipulated:
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?
Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
For the Manipulator:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a
godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate
in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
2 Peter 1:3–4
1 Thessalonians 2:3–8