Impulse to Manipulate

This is going to be a somewhat ironic post.

I say that because I sometimes imagine that there is some parallel universe out there where I went into marketing. I love well done clever marketing and advertising and in many ways marketing travels in the same country as manipulation. There is a desired outcome, and there are a number of ways to get there.

I think that in the best of circumstances advertisement identifies a need and works to convince you that their product or service will satisfy that need. Somewhat less honorably, you will have marketing campaigns that center on creating a need, and following through by convincing  you that their product will satisfy it. In a third scenario, and there are probably many more, advertisers will identify a weakness in the consumer that can be exploited for their gain.

The way that a product is advertised tells us a lot about the way that that the marketer feels about both the product and the consumer. The more that you let manipulative techniques creep into your advertising, the weaker your product appears.

I had a brother ask me a couple weeks ago about the reason that I don’t attend a church anymore. The first reason off my tongue, and if you have read here long enough you know that there is more than one, was how much manipulation I see in the church. Whether it be manufactured emotion, guilt, or shame, the amount of manipulation that I saw while going from one church to another was deeply discouraging.


What does it say about how the hearts of believers are perceived we feel we need to whip them into a frenzy to bring about worship? What does it say about the Spirit if we have to guilt and shame people into doing “God’s will”? What does it say about our view of God, if we don’t feel like we can let him out of his cage, and show himself to be loveable?

It wasn’t actually my intent to jump on the church in this post. This post actually started when I admitted to myself that I have this impulse within my heart as well. When things don’t go my way, when I don’t get what I want, something rises up inside me and tells me how I can turn the situation to my advantage.

I hate listening to that voice. Listening to that voice imposes violence on our relationships, it degrades both the speaker and the listener. It breeds distrust and cynicism. I would put that voice to death. I trust that God is doing just that. In the meantime, I will endeavor to turn a deaf ear to that voice.

I don’t want to play puppeteer to anyone in my life, as I have never particularly enjoyed having my own strings yanked on. I value my relationships and my God enough to not want to subject either of them to my own underhanded marketing.

I’m sure we have all experienced the receiving end of this type of behavior, I’m curious what effect it has had on different relationships. Do you also recognize this impulse within yourself? How do you fend it off?