Have you ever been afraid that you're easily manipulated–and wondered how on earth you can keep from being manipulated all (or any) of the time?
I received an email recently from a young lady–a teenager–who was concerned that she was easily manipulated.
She wanted to know how she can keep from being manipulated, so that any people with whom she has a toxic relationship wouldn't be able to tear her down.
Dear sister, if you're reading this, my heart goes out to you–and THANK YOU for asking this very important question now, instead of waiting until it's too late and someone's manipulation gets you hurt.
And to the rest of our precious family, I think you'll agree:
We all need to know how to keep from being manipulated!
According to Dictionary.com, the word “manipulate” means: to manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfair manner: to manipulate people's feelings.” (There are other definitions there also that aren't relevant to the kind of manipulation we're talking about today.)
I think the definition above is a very revealing thing, don't you? It's revealing because it gives us a hint about the author of manipulation. Remember what Jesus said in John 10:10? He said:
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Jesus brings abundant life. However, the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. None of the enemy's dealings sound fair to me; do they to you? Indeed not. The enemy is the author of injustice.
And manipulation is an unjust tactic.
It's absolutely a demonic tactic that is nothing but evil. The enemy uses manipulation to try to distract you, steal from you, and condemn you.
It's true that he often uses people to do this–but not always. Sometimes the manipulation comes straight through his demonic spirits. Always remember, however, that even if the enemy is using a person to convey his message of manipulation, the person is not your enemy.
As it says in Ephesians 6:12:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
People are not your enemy. However, the enemy does sometimes use people as his vessels sometimes in order to try and manipulate you.
Here are a few examples from my own experience when the enemy has used people to try and manipulate me:
… and I'm going to have to be really real here, in order to teach on this subject, okay? But if you're going to be free from manipulation, we have to look at real life.
One time I was helping some folks out with an extended project. The time came when I knew God was done with me in that work. All the anointing to be there left, and God told me to stop with the busy work!
So I let the project leader know that I would be withdrawing, because I needed to focus on what I was called to do. And you know what? That person told me I was called to their project, not to what I knew I was called to do: the ministry of the Word.
What that person said hurt. It hurt badly. It was the enemy trying to discourage me.
I left the project anyway, and I've never looked back. My fruitfulness increased a thousandfold when I walked away from the busy work. I'm glad I left. It was the right thing to do.
I've also had people send me emails and other messages asking me to send them money (even requests for thousands of dollars), be their social worker, solve their family problems, or solve all their emotional problems. Sometimes they even add in a personal insult or two, telling me I'm a horrible person if I won't do X, Y, or Z that they're asking for. These are people I don't even know!
When I get those emails, I am not able to comply with their requests. (I know this may sound harsh, but I'm not being harsh. I'm being transparent so you can also get you free from manipulation, okay?)
Why don't I do what they want?
For several reasons:
- I'm not God. I can minister, and I can teach … but I can't fix people. I can even minister healing, but you've got to go after God's truth for yourself. People have to transform their lives by the renewing of their minds in the Word of God in order to have their problems solved.
- I'm not their source. I would be doing them a disservice to pretend that I can solve all their problems … thereby enabling them to continue looking to people other than God for help.
- I don't respond to manipulation. When manipulation is involved, the request is from the enemy, not from people. The enemy is trying to get you under his thumb so he can control you, distract you, and rob you.
I can still love the people who contact me like this, and I do. I can pray for them, and I do. But I'm not going to step away from what God has called me to do in order to start pretending I'm God. I'm not God. Only He is, and He does a very good job of it.
This doesn't mean I don't help people or give to the poor. I pour out my life day in and day out to help people. And my husband and I absolutely believe in, and practice, helping the poor.
But there's a difference between that and submitting to the manipulation of the enemy.
I've had people tell me that I am a terrible ______ (insert any number of things) because I'm not:
- behaving like they do/did;
- spending my time the way they do; or
- living my life the way they did.
I don't answer those accusations either. Why? Because those people don't know me and have no right to speak into my life. Furthermore, the enemy is using those people to try and get me into people-pleasing, instead of God-pleasing.
Beloved, if you want to keep from being manipulated, stop trying to make everybody happy.
Stop trying to please people. You can't please both people and God. Either you obey God, or you follow the dictates and whims of people.
Personally, I stopped trying to please people a long time ago–out of sheer desperation. I was being pulled in so many directions by people that it was destroying my spiritual and emotional health. I had to give up pleasing people out of self-defense!
This doesn't mean we shouldn't be correctable. We absolutely should be correctable.
However, if God had been trying to correct me regarding any of the items above, He would have done so Himself–or He would have used a person who actually has permission/relationship to speak into my life (my husband, a pastor, mentor, trusted friend, etc). Not random people who presume to think they know anything about me or God's will for my life.
So those things above are all examples of when the enemy tries to use other people to manipulate you.
The enemy also will try to manipulate you by simply sending demons to whisper in your ear.
If he can get you to listen to his foul lies, he can even build a stronghold of bondage in your life. And I've discovered–again, the enemy doesn't play fair–that usually the enemy will attack you right in the area of your gifting and destiny. For example:
- He'll tell you're not any good at the thing you know you're called to do.
- He'll tell you that you messed up once, and you cut off God's blessings in your life by doing so.
- He'll tell you that no one wants you.
- He'll tell you that you have no hope, future, or opportunity–and never will.
All of these things are lies from the enemy. They are absolute manipulation, and there's no truth in them. Remember that Jesus said to the Jews who hated Him:
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).
Anytime the enemy's mouth is moving, he's lying! And the same goes for his evil minions (demonic spirits), too.
Related: Don't Get Seduced by Demons!
So now that we know a few examples about how manipulation happens, how can we keep from being manipulated?
Here's the answer, and I'll discuss each part of this answer separately below:
1) You have to know who you are;
2) You have to know what you're called to do; and
3) You have to know what God's Word says about day-to-day behavior.
First, you have to know who you are.
If you don't know who you are, then you'll be susceptible to every enemy voice trying to distract you–whether that voice is coming through people or not. For example, if you don't know who you are:
- You'll believe the insults people hurl at you.
- You'll believe it when the enemy tries to tell you that you're not talented enough, smart enough, pretty enough, popular enough, rich enough, or related to the right people.
- You'll believe it when the enemy tells you there's no hope for you.
On the other hand, if you know who you are and the enemy comes against you, you can tell him to be gone in Jesus' name. You can say, “That is not from the Lord; I do not receive it” (a favorite phrase that my pastor taught me).
And when the enemy sends people to do his dirty work, telling you that you're not _____, you can tell all those people not to poop in your Lexus.
So how do you learn who you are? How do you get to that place of knowing who you are?
Only one way: By hiding God's Word in your heart.
If you want to keep from being manipulated, you've got to fill your heart up with God's truth from His Word. You've got to stamp His Word on your heart and brain so deeply that you never doubt. You've got to know:
- That you are the righteousness of God Himself in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21);
- That you're more than a conqueror through Christ who loves you (Romans 8:37);
- That you are God's beloved child (1 John 3:1);
- That you were bought with the price of Jesus' blood, and now you belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20); and
- That just as Jesus is, SO ARE YOU in this world (1 John 4:17).
The Bible goes on and on, listing the amazing things that you are. If you have made Jesus Christ the Boss and Lord of your life, you are beloved. You are accepted. You are forgiven. You are free. You are a new creation in Christ Jesus. You ARE.
And if you know these things, you'll be able to stand firm in them and not be manipulated when the devil tries to tell you his opinion about who you are.
Secondly, you have to know what you're called to do.
Beloved, if you're going to live a victorious life and walk in everything God has for you, you've got to know what you're about.
In one of my personal stories above, I would have gotten severely derailed–maybe permanently derailed–if I had listened to the person who felt I should spend my time just helping them with their project (which God had told me to leave).
However, glory be to God, I didn't get derailed. It hurt, yeah. I was tempted to give in, yes. But it didn't stop me or impact me–and God actually vindicated my choice immediately. The next day, as a matter of fact. 🙂
But if I had given in to the enemy's lies about what I'm called to do, there's no way I'd be where I am today. God wouldn't be able to use me like He is now, because I'd still be using my time trying to please people instead of obeying God.
Beloved, you've got to know what you're about.
You've got to know what your call is.
You've got to know why God placed you on this earth for such a time as this.
So how do you figure out what you're called to do?
It's really not hard. I've written two articles about this that give you specific questions you can ask yourself about your own personality, likes, dislikes, etc. When you put your answers together, these articles show you how you can see clearly what you're called to do.
Here are the two articles:
- Divine Alignment with the Right Things, Part 2: Finding Your Calling and Life Message
- 6 Questions that Help You Identify Your Calling (on iBelieve.com)
If you'll get alone with the Lord and ask yourself the questions listed in the articles above, He'll show you exactly what your calling is.
Finally, you have to learn what God's Word says about day-to-day behavior.
If you don't know that God's Word says to flee fornication and pursue holiness, you'll give in when your boyfriend asks you to have sex with him “because if you love me, you will.”
If you don't know that the Bible says NOT EVER to co-sign a loan, you'll sign your name on the loan papers whenever your bankrupt relative/child asks you to. And then, probably not too long later, you'll find YOURSELF on the hook for thousands of dollars–possibly bankrupting yourself.
If you don't know that God's Word says a worker is worthy of their hire, you'll believe the people who tell you that your full-time ministry should be given away for free–even if your house is in foreclosure, your bills are all late, and you can't feed your kids.
If you don't know that God's Word says that a person who won't work shouldn't eat, then you'll give in when your adult, able-bodied child/friend/ex-spouse/etc wants you move in with you, use you, and let you take care of them–so they can play video games all day.
All of those things are situations where the enemy is trying to manipulate you. When it happens, just say no!
And in order to get the backbone necessary to say no, you've got to know what God's Word says about practical things! We've got to hide God's Word in our heart about everything, including about:
- character issues;
- family issues;
- and more.
If God's Word says it, we need to know it. We need to know every bit of truth from every page, every letter, every sentence of God's Word.
Beloved, you don't have to give in to manipulation.
You don't have to be easily manipulated–or manipulated at all. You can be completely free. Free to hear God and say what He says. Free to see God and do what He does.
You just have to know what His Word says about who you are and what you're called to do. When you find that out, you'll be able to stand with the shield of faith over you, defeating all the fiery darts of the enemy.
Have you been finding yourself easily manipulated? Do you know who you are and what you're about? If this message helped you, please leave a comment below!
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