Whether it’s a spouse, friend or child, we’ve all wanted to change something about someone.
Maybe it’s a habit or a lifestyle. Maybe it’s talking someone out of a certain decision, a toxic relationship or even to convince a loved one to accept the Lord. So what do you do to get through and convince them to do what is obviously best (in your eyes, at least)?
An embarrassing story from my life gives some insight into the answer.
A Joke Gone Bad
A number of years ago, a close friend considered moving far away to take a job opportunity. And selfishly, I didn’t want him to go.
So one day while he wasn’t paying attention, I stole his phone to change my name in his contact list to read “Holy Ghost.” The idea was that I would text, “Don’t move!” and because of the name change, it would appear on his phone as if the Holy Spirit had sent it. I thought it was a clever joke, but the joke ended up on me.
It turned out that in my rush to edit my name, I misspelled the word “ghost” and instead spelled “goat.” So when he received my text, it didn’t appear from the “Holy Ghost” but the “Holy Goat!”
This humorous little incident provided a powerful illustration of what the Lord thought of my manipulating antics. “You can’t do what only I can do,” I felt Him say. And He was right. The Holy Spirit didn’t need my help at all. Through a series of events that only God could orchestrate, my friend decided not to move, even after paperwork was signed.
Back to my original question, “How do you change someone?”
Steps to Change Someone
The first step is to learn what I did—you aren’t the Holy Spirit. And though you might be persuasive and have the best arguments, real and lasting change in someone happens only by revelation from God Himself.
Whether it’s convincing your child to make the right relationship choice, your spouse to accept salvation or your friend to take or not take that job, certainly you should pray, then you have to let go and let God.
But don’t be disappointed, there still is someone you can change. And that’s you! Yes, a change in your attitude, your trust or your patience, might be all that’s needed to not be so bothered by a loved one’s choices.
To the Corinthians, Paul provided a model for how to show someone that you care. He wrote, “Love suffers long and is kind. Love flaunts not itself. [Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:4-7, MEV).
A Prayer for You
If you currently struggle with someone else’s choices, pray with me: “God, help me to love unconditionally and to develop my patience as I wait for You to work.”
Now, back off and let God do the talking! In His own timing and ways, God can do in 10 seconds what you can’t do in 10 years of arguing, persuading or manipulating.