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How to Help Someone Not Change

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How to Help Someone Not Change

Stephen AltroggeStephen Altrogge
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Dear Stephen,

I have this person in my life – maybe it’s my spouse, maybe it’s one of my kids, maybe it’s a friend – it doesn’t really matter. They have this sinful habit that drives me absolutely bonkers. They complain a lot. Or maybe they criticize me a lot. Or maybe they argue a lot. Or they don’t express enough care toward me. Whatever it is, it drives me cuh-razy!

But here’s the thing. I DON’T want them to change. I want them to get hardened in their sin.

What should I do? How can I help them NOT change?

Sincerely,

Dazed & Confused

Dear Dazed & Confused (can I call you “Dazed”?),

My heart goes out to you. Your plight is a common one, and has driven many a spouse/parent/friend crazy. It’s like, WHY CAN’T THEY SEE IT?!?! Why do they keep doing the same thing over and over? It makes you want to smash your head against a semi-padded wall (a regular wall is much too hard).

So, how can you help them NOT change? How can you help them become hardened in their sins? It’s really rather easy. Two words: Get angry. That’s all there is to it! If you want to help a person not change, get angry every time they sin. Blow up. Be volcanic. Explosive even. After all, it says in James 1:19-20:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Getting angry at a person never produces true righteousness. Don’t get me wrong ‒ if you scream loud enough, and slam enough doors, you can probably achieve some behavior modification. But anger never produces any change at the heart level.

Want your kids to be good ol’ fashioned Pharisees? Blow up at them regularly. Make them feel how angry you are. Scream if you need to. Every angry outburst adds another crust to their hearts. They may change outwardly, but they’re still the same on the inside.

We have this funny idea that if we can make people see how angry we really are, then they’ll change. If we can make them feel our anger, then they’ll finally get the point and change. But it doesn’t work that way. Anger actually has the opposite effect to what we intend. Anger hardens; love, peace, and gentleness soften. Anger condemns; the Holy Spirit convicts.

So fire up those anger jets! Get ready for a good screaming session. Stretch your arms in case you need to slam some doors (don’t want to pull a muscle!). If you can get good and angry, I guarantee your child/spouse/friend will never change.

Sincerely,

Stephen Altrogge

  • Ngallendou Dièye

    The best lessons — in my own estimation — that I have learned about leadership, came from a leader who proved a complete “control freak.” As I watched him, and became his victim, I made several resolutions for my own behaviour, in case I should ever be placed in a leadership role.

    a) If I get angry with you, the anger comes from me, not from you, for you cannot make me angry.
    b) I have this position in order to make you successful. You are not here in order to make me successful, as I view success.
    c) Since you and I both make many mistakes, some of them intentionally, I give you freedom to repent or to grow up, even if you do not return the favour.
    d) I do not keep records of your mistakes, sins and mischief, lest I compile a case against you to have your removed from the work to which God has called you, thereby destroying God’s work.

  • Jim Sutherland

    Greetings. Can’t help think of Jesus’ anger in Mark 3:5, and his woes upon the Pharisees in Matt. 23 and Luke 11. Eph. 4:26, in our anger, don’t sin. We aren’t Jesus, but at times anger is appropriate, and a father will find those occasions, it appears to me. The Father gets angry, and to be godly, perhaps at times anger is appropriate. As CS Lewis notes in Reflections on the Psalms, the absence of anger may be alarming, in the face of injustice, for example. Biblical teaching on anger is nuanced.