Ministering to Manipulators

Do you have anyone in your church that is a manipulator?  Maybe it’s a board member.  Maybe it’s a little old lady down the street.  Regardless, it can be tough to ministry to a manipulative personality.  Brooks Faulkner had an article posted at LifeWay.com (that is no longer available) that helps address how you might approach your favorite manipulator.  Brooks writes,

Three As of the manipulator:

  • Attention: He never gets enough, no matter how much you give.
  • Affection: She nevers feel enough, no matter how many share their love.
  • Approval: He never receives enough, no matter how actions are affirmed.

A manipulator may legitimately need attention, affection, and approval, but as a leader you must prioritize your time.

The Solution: Turn an uncomfortable relationship with the manipulative person into a positive relationship. It’s not easy, but it is possible. Here are five ways to help you.

1. Give needed attention.

Our work as caregivers involves the recognition of genuine need. Giving this person attention is not only a responsibility, but a privilege.

2. Confront gently.

Respond to a person who “dropped in” with, “Good to see you Jim, but you’ve caught me at a bad time. There are some things that are pressing me. Let me call you as soon as I get time. Thanks for understanding.”

3. Respond candidly.

When confronted on an issue, respond with, “It sounds to me as if you need a little education on . . . Let me share a couple of my intentions.

4. Say “No” when you need to.

It is hard for you to say “no” without feeling guilty, but it is necessary for your emotional and spiritual health.

5. Leave change up to God.

Encourage, but don’t expect too much. Leave the rest up to God. He can handle it.

Any thoughts?  Ever have to deal with a manipulator in your midst?  Would these tips have helped?  Leave your comments below…


  • Peter D. May 1, 2013 Reply

    Interesting. However, there are many who are in leadership who are manipulators as well. Not just in the church, but in society in general.

    Manipulators cause great damage to ministry, and the ONLY way to conquer their ways is by public exposure.

    This may sound harsh, but after 25+ years of ministry, this has been the most effective way. Sometimes compassion can only be shown through harsh confrontation.

  • G. Todd March 16, 2015 Reply

    My lead pastor is the lead manipulator. What then, in addition to prayer?

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