What’s The Difference Between Manipulation And Persuasion?

persuasion or abuse cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

When a spiritual leader forces you to do something, It’s not persuasion. It’s spiritual abuse. Manipulation and coercion are abusive. 

When I resisted these attempts I was accused of resisting the Spirit and blocking the vision of the church.  

A personal story: I met with one pastor before I finally broke ties with him. He was furious because I wouldn’t cooperate. At one point in the meeting he poked his finger hard into my chest and told me that Lisa and I needed therapy.  

What provoked him to do this? Well, he asked me, “What is it about me that bothers you so much?” I said, “I find you very controlling.” He went ballistic. 

Another time a person with spiritual authority over me flipped when I suggested that he not encourage people to adore him so much. By adore I mean bowing and kneeling at his feet and weeping in rapt adoration. He fired me and thrust me and my family into financial desperation.  

Those two incidents are abuse.  

Understand that many spiritual leaders confuse coercion with persuasion because they really really want you to do what they want.

Is that clear to you?  

Because some people can’t tell. I couldn’t for a long time because I was taught that spiritual leaders making you do something you don’t want to do is some kind of anointing, God’s way of overpowering your fleshly resistance to God’s will. 

Here’s one way I tell the difference between abuse and persuasion: 

When you are spiritually abused you feel like something’s wrong but you blame yourself. When you are persuaded you feel that something’s right and you feel better about yourself because of it. 

How do you tell the difference?

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