22220.011 How to Change People’s Minds

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases. (Proverbs 21:1)

“I just can’t figure out where he’s coming from.” “The two of us just can’t seem to get on the same page.” “The way she thinks…it’s so weird that I just can’t seem to get through to her.” These lines sound familiar? I’ve heard them in marriage counseling sessions, from teen­agers frustrated with their parents (and vice versa!), and from people at their wits’ ends over their bosses or co-workers.

Sometimes, we think the world would be a better place—or at least would go better for us—if we could just change the way other people think! At the same time, I don’t know anyone who would welcome the thought of someone able to change the way we think. This would be terrorizing. It smacks of a horror movie in which some monstrous dictator has found the secret to mind control.

Despite all this, we waste a lot of time trying to change the way people think. From salesmanship to evangelism and from contract negotiations to romantic relationships, we take on this mission. All of these, of course, involve persuasion and influence but should never be reduced to an attempt to change a mind.

Principle: Seeking to change other people’s thinking is an exercise in futility unless they direct their wills toward the change; it’s a goal that should never be pursued unaided.

The believer possesses, however, an incredible power unavailable to those outside the faith, the true power to change minds! The passage cited above provides the key—the Lord holds the heart and mind of even the most powerful in His hand, and He can direct the thinking wherever He wills! This means, then, that as we pray to, submit to, and trust God for changes that fit His will, they will come. Incredible.

Principle: Only God has the power and the access to people’s hearts and inner thoughts sufficient to change their minds.

Over and over, I’ve watched anxious, bitter, striving people finally surrender their efforts to change the thinking of another…to God. Over and over, I’ve watched Him close in on the other person’s evil, aberrant, stubborn thought processes and bring about change in thinking—or situations which force it! It seems that God commonly waits to change the other person until we get our egos, our striving, our manipulations out of His way. He wants our minds to change first.

Principle: It is folly to ask God to change the thinking of others until we are first willing to have Him change our own.

So why not turn the “mind change” efforts over to God? It is through Him that the Power is unleashed to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

[from “Wisdom for the Trenches” by Dr. Larry W. Poland]