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5 Suggestions on Handling Master Manipulators

Here are five suggestions on ministering to master manipulators. 

Nearly every church has one—an individual whose primary purpose at church is to manipulate situations in his or her favor. While we’re charged to minister to everyone, the manipulative person makes this task difficult.

Manipulators are usually seeking one or all of the following things with their tactics.


Manipulators never feel enough affection, no matter how much love people or the church shower on them.


Manipulators never internalize approval, even when their actions are consistently affirmed.


These people never feel validated, regardless of attempts to recognize or give credit to them.

So how do you minister to manipulators? Here are five suggestions.

1. Give the manipulator attention.

Give this person the attention he or she genuinely needs without violating boundaries.

2. Confront gently.

Use kind, gentle words when redirecting a manipulative individual. For example, if a manipulative parent wants to dominate your time between services, kindly say, “I appreciate your concern and I’d love to talk with you about this issue further, but now isn’t a good time. Let me call you to set up a time when we can meet. Thanks for your understanding.”

3. Respond candidly.

Don’t beat around the bush or avoid issues, speak directly and use examples and direct points to communicate your intent.

4. Say no to the manipulator.

Don’t feel guilty—saying no is healthy for you and for the person you’re ministering to. Set boundaries and say no when you need to.

5. Let go.

Only God can truly change a person’s heart. Encourage, but don’t expect too much. Pray for the individual and leave the rest up to God.

Want more articles for children’s ministry leaders? Check these out.

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5 Suggestions on Handling Master Mani...

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