How to control other people
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could fix all the broken people in your life? I mean, if they would just do what you want them to do, so much unnecessary stress could be avoided! Even the ability to control your kids or your spouse would make life so much easier. Right? Wrong. Actually Jesus addresses this toward the end of the sermon on the mount:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Mt 7:1–12 NIV)
He basically says what not to do three different ways:
- Stop judging people (it always backfires)
- Quit trying to fix people (it only hurts them)
- Give up forcing wonderful things on people (it only turns them against you)
If you think you know what others think, feel or need to change, you are playing God. Even God doesn’t try to control people like that. Those judgements are not ours to make. We are not the ones responsible for their choices. They are. Judging others only gets us judged. Think about it. Who are the people everyone judges the most? Judgmental people. It backfires. Stop it!
When we judge others, our judgement itself becomes a plank in our eye that keeps us from really seeing others as they are. The pre-judgement (or pre-judice) we have made already makes us unable to see anything else. Now even when we try to help, we only end up cracking people upside the head with our two by four. Get the plank of judgement out and you can see people for who they are. Everyone will thank you!
Finally, unsolicited advice is never welcome. Do you like it? Pigs want to eat. Feeding them pearls they can’t digest will only get them to try to eat you. Dogs want a bone, not holy communion. Forcing things you think are great on others only gets them to run from you or turn on you. Control is an illusion. Give it up!
What can you do instead to get people to do what you want?
You don’t have to be in control of anyone but yourself. Making a simple request gives people the dignity of choice and encourages self-control for everyone. Those who ask receive. Those who seek find. To those who knock the door is opened. It works in prayer because that is a relationship with someone you can’t control. It also works with other people you can’t control. Kids with their parents. Parents with their kids. Husbands and wives.
So try making requests, not demands and see how your relationships improve.