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Praying Woman

Breaking the Strings

Breaking the Strings

by Janis Jakes

Manipulation may come in a pretty package—with gifts, bows, flattering lips, and smiles—but it is dark and sinister at its core. So, how can you know if you’re being manipulated? And, how can you put a stop to it?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to manipulate means to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means, especially to one’s own advantage or to serve one’s purpose. The first depiction in the Bible of this type of manipulation is the serpent in the garden of Eden.

He used insidious means (treacherous, seductive) to get Adam and Eve to do exactly what he wanted without care or concern for the repercussions they would suffer.

We know that a child of God should never use manipulation to achieve his or her goals. God wants us to trust Him with the situations and circumstances in our lives. At the same time, He does not want us to allow others to manipulate or control our lives. He purposely gave us a free will. We were never intended to be another person’s puppet.

There are times when we are not sure if we are being manipulated or not. Some manipulators use threats and bullying to get what they want. Others are more deceitful, using devious or crafty means to fulfill their own self-interests.

Here are a few ways I have learned to recognize a manipulator:

  • You’re not free to say “no” to a request or invitation without fear or a heavy dread of the manipulator’s response.

  • A manipulator will stir your flesh to get what he or she wants, using false flattery, fake tears, or even guilt trips to coerce you into doing his or her bidding.

  • A manipulator’s gifts always have strings attached; e.g. now you owe me and must do what I want or repercussions will follow.

  • Manipulators typically come on strong, sweeping you off your feet with kindness, attention, compliments, etc., only showing their true face after you have been indoctrinated.

  • A manipulator will look for a weakness in you and rather than pray for you or encourage spiritual growth, they will use it against you to get what they want.

The greatest way to recognize a manipulator is by listening to the Holy Spirit. Not too long ago, I became entangled with someone skilled at manipulation. Frankly, it took me some time to catch on. When I look back, I realize that the Holy Spirit had been speaking, but I was not listening.

I quickly repented and with the Holy Spirit guiding me, began to separate myself from this person without being harsh, reminding myself of the verse in Ephesians 6:12:

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

If you are being manipulated, God may have you deal with your situation a different way. Pray and let Him direct you on what course of action to take.

Although manipulation is wrong, no matter how you look at it, there may be other factors besides self-interest driving controlling behavior, such as fear and insecurity. That does not make it right, nor should we enable such behavior. But that is all the more reason to speak to God first.

How can you stop manipulation?

Once you recognize that you are in a manipulative relationship, how do you stop it? Following are a few suggestions.

  • Refuse to respond emotionally to the bait. It is perfectly acceptable to give a polite, “No. I’m not comfortable doing that.” Or, “No, the Lord is not leading me that direction.”

  • Understand ahead of time that a manipulator will not like it when you refuse to be his or her puppet. Expect disapproval, maybe even tears and verbal attacks, but also know that it is just more manipulation. Stand your ground in love.

  • If the manipulator is someone in your church, discuss the situation in confidence with a spiritual leader. If he or she chooses to confront the person, consider asking if you can be present just so the truth will not be twisted to fit the manipulator’s purpose.

  • PRAY—for yourself and the manipulator; ask God for guidance on dealing with the situation with spiritual maturity, and pray for deliverance for the wrongdoer so he or she can walk in freedom in Christ Jesus.

  • Seek greater intimacy with God. This will keep your ear attuned to manipulators before they’ve attached strings, and it will keep you attuned to your own potential manipulative behavior so you can quickly stop and repent.

In Proverbs 3:5-6, the Word of God states: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

The Lord is your King, and it is His voice you should obey. Refuse to give His position to anyone else. Let God alone reign in your heart, and in your life. Choose this day and every day to be controlled by the Spirit, and not a puppet for another person’s use.


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