Help to Identify and Resist Manipulation

According to my online dictionary, to manipulate is—”to manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfair manner: to manipulate people’s feelings.

In the last few weeks, I’ve received several requests asking for prayer. A theme connected these different requests. My friends were suffering under skillful manipulators who used their positions of authority to trample over their feelings, rights, and needs.

How do we identify and resist manipulation? Why does it matter if we give in or not?

Identifying Manipulation

Delilah used emotional pain to control Samson, and manipulators use it to control us—if we let them (Judges 16). Manipulators charm, mope, and threaten—all to get their way. They use guilt, shame, and intimidation to beat us into submission. Beware of their intent, and never compromise what is right to appease them or gain relief.

Giving in to manipulation is not just unpleasant—it destroys. Jesus said no one can serve two masters. Submitting to manipulation makes the wrong person lord over our lives.

How Do We Protect Ourselves from Manipulation?

 Recognizing manipulation is essential to standing against it. The closer we walk with Jesus, the better we recognize His voice and the easier it becomes to tune out competing influences. The Bible says we grow in discernment through practice.

But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Heb. 5:18 NASB). 

Giving in to manipulation and tolerating sin keeps us spiritually immature. Samson’s callousness to sin made him susceptible to Delilah’s schemes. The ugly feelings we experience when facing manipulation warn us to set healthy boundaries.

If you suspect you are being manipulated, ask the following:

  • How do I feel after I leave this person or group? Feeling weary, selfish, angry, and guilty may indicate someone is trying to control you. Jesus doesn’t use guilt, shame, threats, or a victim mentality with us. The fruit of the Spirit displays His character (Gal. 5:22-23).
  • What is my motivation? Am I choosing what is the best—or avoiding disappointing or angering someone? In other words, am I avoiding pain or pursuing faith and love?
    Samson didn’t tell Delilah his sacred secret because he thought it was the right thing to do. He wanted relief from her pestering. When someone takes more than we want to give, we feel used. Resentful feelings warn us to consider the motive behind our compliance.
    In the long run, caving into controlling people won’t protect us. Samson’s temporary relief from giving in to Delilah led to greater loss and anguish. We despise our spineless yielding and resent the people we allowed to manipulate us—and anyone who reminds us of them. This isn’t love.
    People who habitually let others control them are candidates for self-destructive habits. They mindlessly eat, shop, drink, or gamble to numb the pain of feeling used. Faith is a better motivator than fear, and love is a better inspiration than pity. Jesus never manipulates us. He never shames us. So don’t allow others to control you that way either. Godly sorrow over real sin is very different from false guilt.
  • Have I counted the long-term cost of compliance? When some religious people tried to control a group of believers in the early church, Paul wrote:

    It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). 

Standing firm in our God-given freedom may upset those who want to control us. But that isn’t bad. Paul also said, “No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval” (1 Cor. 11:19).

Stand Firm Against Manipulation

Conflict exposes hearts. If one arises because you won’t let someone wrongly control you, know you’re in good company. Religious leaders used religion and threats to try to control Jesus, the Apostle Paul, and the disciples. Because these men understood God’s will, they escaped their nets by serving one Master. We can too.

In the long run, caving into controlling people won’t protect us. Samson’s temporary relief from giving in to Delilah led to greater loss and anguish. #RefreshingFaith, #BigGod Click To Tweet

Adapted from Little Faith, Big God.

Click here to comment.


Sometimes I link with these great sites:

#InspireMeMonday, #InstaEncouraements, #TellHisStory  #Recharge Wednesday, #Grace&Truth,

More From This Category

Spiritual Bonding Made Simple

Spiritual Bonding Made Simple

Do you have a way of connecting spiritually with those you love? My husband Larry shares an exercise he uses with couples he counsels. “Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are” (Jn 17:11 NASB 1995). Is...

read more



  1. J.D. Wininger

    Amen Ms. Debbie. With each passing week, we are seeing more and more attempts to manipulate and control society and the minds of men by the government, media, anti-social media, and yes, some churches. I applaud your courage to write this post and provide guidance on where we need to focus upon our search for truth. God’s word is truth! it is the only absolute I know if this ever-increasing world of deceit. Well said author!

    • Debbie Wilson

      J.D., I can’t believe the pressure so many are under. May we draw strength for the Lord and each other to follow Him.

  2. Marilyn C.

    Thank-you, Debbie. So needed
    in this day & age. Taking it to heart & passing it on. You are
    fulfilling your calling by sharing
    God’s Truth & shedding His Light
    where needed.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Marilyn! God bless.

  3. Deen

    Thanks really impactful. It’s like you are addressing core issues directly affecting me and the people I considered as friends.

    God bless you and all yours.

    Yours in Christ


    • Debbie Wilson

      Deen, I’m thankful it resonated. Many blessings to you!

  4. Melissa Henderson

    This message is full of great wisdom. Thank you. We must stand firm against manipulation. We must seek God’s guidance in every situation.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Amen. Thanks Melissa!

  5. Ann J Musico

    Oh boy Debbie is this relevant to what is happening now. Thank you for sharing this excellent post.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Ann!

  6. Katherine Pasour

    I confess to taking on to many tasks. Some of this is caused by my over-achiever syndrome. However, I’m also aware that I allow others to manipulate me into taking on too many projects. Thank you for sharing your wisdom in helping us to resist this over-burdening which ultimately separates us from God.

  7. Debbie Wilson

    I hear you, Katherine. It is easy to take on too much because we don’t want to disappoint anyone.

  8. Barbara Harper

    I don’t think I have ever seen or heard this topic addressed before, but it is so needed. It’s true that we think we can keep peace by yielding to a manipulator, but that only makes things worse.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Yes, and we lose a bit of ourselves. Thanks for reading, Barbara.

  9. Joanne Viola

    I so appreciated this post as it was eye opening to past situations and decisions I had made at the time. This helped me to realize it was the Lord’s leading >> “The ugly feelings we experience when facing manipulation warn us to set healthy boundaries.”

    • Debbie Wilson

      I’m so glad to hear it helped illuminate, Joanne. Yes, we can wonder what’s wrong with us.

  10. Connie Jo

    Thank you Debbie! Absolutely true and very helpful!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Connie Jo!

  11. Joanna Eccles

    Thanks for the reminder to not let people manipulate me into doing things that I don’t need or what to do. I may feel like it keeps the peace, but it erodes my heart.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Joanna. Well said. “It erodes my heart.” It certainly doesn’t bring internal peace.

  12. Barb Fox

    Debbie, Kudos on addressing this complex topic in such a God-honoring fashion. As we work our way through pandemic responses dealing with vaccinate/no-vaccinate, when to wear masks, and social distancing best practices, I’m going to try keep putting these principles in practice on BOTH sides. May God help me share my opinions without manipulating or putting down others. And may I recognize those who care more about twisting my arm to turn their way than they do about encouraging me to personally seek God’s direction.

    • debbie wilson

      Yes, to both, Barbara. May we refrain from being manipulators and from being manipulated.

Refreshing Faith Blog

Pin It on Pinterest