The Effectual and Destructive Power of Manipulation…
Take heed that no man deceive you…(Matthew 24:4)
I had a recent encounter that provided itself with the opportunity to witness both the effectual and destructive power of manipulation… I was somewhat amazed at how God was showing me this as the encounter played out in front of me…
What is “manipulation?” According to Encarta: to control or influence somebody or something in an ingenious (clever, brilliant) or devious (underhanded, misleading) manner or way. Manipulation can come in the form of a smile and handshake to a daunting sigh and shake-of-the-head! In other words, All gossip can be manipulating, but not all manipulations come in the form of gossip!!!
Oh, how much better off our world would be if we simply said, “Yea,” “Yea,” or “Nae,” “Nae.” End of story. But, we don’t like to end at such limited information…After all, we are an “informational” society!! There’s always a story to be told and we’re just dying to tell it! Good or bad…
I saw this happen over and over (and sadly over again) in “some” of the churches where my husband was the Pastor. People are often “Liked” or “Disliked” by association; by what “someone” else has said or spoken…Sadly, very few of us are actually judged on our own merit or abilities (or, lack thereof!). It’s all in who we know and how “they” feel about us at the moment….And, how they are willing to tell the world about us! And, truth be known, for most people, how they feel and how they respond often depends on their last encounter or interaction… Either for the Good or Bad….Hopefully, it will be for the good! But, that’s not aways the case.
People can “like” us and say all matters of “good” things about us; even pray for us….Then, as quickly as a blink-of-the-eye…You are dead meat kitty! Believe me, I know what I am talking about!!!! Then, all the years of accolades and sweet gestures are suddenly gone-with-the-wind and your name is mud! Afterwards, everyone seems to want to jump on their bandwagon!!! So, for every person they meet and greet they tell two..and they tell two…And they tell two….and suddenly your reputation is ruined and slandered due to their spin or take on the situation….All contributed to the Power of Manipulation by one person or one group….(Don’t foo yourself, the influence of one person is mighty powerful!)
Recently, I witnessed someone talking about the wife of someone in the ministry. At first, the person speaking said nothing but good, uplifting, and encouraging words of praise. So, the person who was listening perked up and seemed as if they had found a new best friend for life in the minister’s wife (without having even met her!)…Then, slowly the wheels of motion started turning (there seems to always be a turn!)….Now, that the “good” had been reported, it was time to shed light on the weaknesses…. (Couldn’t leave out the “weaknesses,” now could we!!!) So, their voices got a little lower (slightly above a whisper) and there it was…”Well, she does have this problem…..” (Be my guest…You fill in the blanks as you see fit!)…So, suddenly the perked-up-interest the listener was showing in getting better acquainted with the poor minister’s wife dulled into a, “Oh, What a shame….”
Manipulation at its best!!! Sadly, it seems to abound all around us; our churches, schools, place of employments, and even immediate families….
Question….What might it be like if our slates were blank? Our agendas empty? Our pre-conceived notions unplugged and not working? What if everyone we meet or know, including ourselves, could be judged individually by our own merit, works, and efforts before the “crowd” had time to dissect us and manipulate our reputations in the mud before we ever entered into the room or opened our mouths!!! What a concept!
Once, my husband was being considered for a certain church. One evening, during the process, we received a phone call from one of the members of the pulpit committee. He asked if my husband and I would meet with some folks who had a few questions…Sadly, my husband agreed to meet with these people…The outcome was so outrageous that it really doesn’t merit mentioning! But, let’s just say that our pre-conceived reputations had been “manipulated” by a couple of people in that particular church who were not “fans” of ours at the moment!!! The funny thing is, I can run into these very same people now (years later) and once again hugs and kisses with no regard to what their waggling tongues of manipulation had done to us! Good thing the Lord teaches us to forgive one another! And, truly, by His grace I have forgiven…It’s ok!
Being a Pastor and pastor’s family, you quickly learn to accept the good and the bad in situations and circumstances as a part of God’s divine leading…Not always an easy thing to do and often times very emotionally painful, but none the less the right thing to do if you are going to survive and be obedient to, “Thus Saith the Lord!” I accept that God may have used those people to bring about His will for our lives…How do I know? Less than two weeks later, he was called to serve as Pastor at another church! See, God does know best!!
Oh, my friend…We ALL need to watch closer what we say when we are put into a situation that affords us the opportunity to talk about another for the good or the bad….Remember, the “good” is not always to the level of “good” that we proclaim…And, the “bad” may not be as “bad” as we are making it out to be….Everyone has strengths and weaknesses… We need to respect that in our lives.
Oh, how “we” need to be more careful! Let’s all just try to be a little more “objective” and less “subjective” and try keeping our mouths shut just a little bit more and remember how our words can manipulate for the good or the bad….Let people make their own choices and form their own opinions without being “manipulated.” It’s just healthier.
But, in closing, don’t forget….Our God sees and hears ALL!!! Oh, how I look forward to the day when God will set all things right according to what HE KNOWS!!! Amen.
Remember, God Loves You
Lin T Rollins, Author
@copyright 2012 by Lin T Rollins