I will start today with an honest confession, I am a manipulator. I have been caught and called out on this character flaw by family and friends. It is an area that is continually being transformed in me day by day.
Sitting at coffee with a friend last week, I had a sudden and surprising realization. I had been tricked by the Almighty! I made assumptions about the meaning behind a specific event in my life and quickly realized…in my own words that, “God had pulled a fast one on me!”
God hadn’t actually tricked me. He had influenced my life in a way that led me to growth, healing, and transformation. Which, after all, is exactly what I asked Him for!
Now, hear me well, I do think that manipulating, in it’s most human form and for personal gain, motives, and agenda is wrong and disrespectful. I do however think there is a fine line between manipulation and influence. Spiritually influencing another person, soul, and/or life towards healing, change, life, growth, and hope is a beautiful thing.
My prayer is that God is transforming my pattern of human manipulating for my own gain to spiritually influencing people for Him. Manipulation seeks an end result while influence seeks life, freedom, and growth. I am learning to use the gift of influence, rather than the curse of manipulation, in the lives of people.
The line between manipulation and influence is a tricky one, for sure. It is an easy line to blur as it seems so intangible and relative. Let me suggest some thoughts that might help make the line a bit clearer.
- I am influencing someone if my conversation leads them closer to God.
- I am manipulating if I am the sole beneficiary from the outcome of the conversation.
- I am influencing if the outcome brings growth, change, and freedom.
- I am manipulating when I have rehearsed the conversation in my head 18 times.
- I am influencing when I admit that I don’t have the answer.
- I am manipulating when I have a 5 year plan and 14 step strategy for the person.
- I am influencing when I build someone up to be the best they can be.
Where has the line between human manipulation and spiritual influence been blurred in your life? Who is influencing or manipulating you? In what ways has God influenced your life to bring you to healing, growth, and transformation?