Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wicked Influence

Perhaps one of the best exchanges of dialogue in the 2002 comedy, My Big Fat Greek Wedding occurs between Toula and her mother Maria:


Toula: Ma, Dad is so stubborn. What he says goes. "Ah, the man is the head of the house!"
Maria: Let me tell you something, Toula. The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants!

The reason this line is a classic is because it is entirely true. God may have given men a leadership role, but He gave women influential power. However, I do not think women realize how much power they have over men. Unfortunately, those who do understand this incredible power tend to exercise their influence in wicked ways. In fact, I did it just this past weekend.

Last week my dad had a cancer scare. He had a bone marrow biopsy and we were waiting to hear the results whether or not he had leukemia. Neither of my parents are saved. I have tried to witness to them ever since I became a Christian in 1993.

About three weeks before I learned my dad may be sick, God put it on my heart to begin praying more prayers focused on his salvation. My parents were very upset and afraid, not knowing what would happen. They asked everyone in creation to pray. Then on Thursday, we learned he did not have cancer after all. I took the opportunity to invite my father and mother to church. They said they’d think about it.

On Saturday night I went out of town, but I called my parents to confirm that they were going to church the next day. My mom told me that they were not going to go because they’d rather go to a water park. I was floored! Here is a man who just had a cancer scare and he gets a clean bill of health, just to blow off an opportunity to learn more about God. I was so angry. I flat out told my parents over the phone, "That's a real snub! Those test results did not have to turn out the way they did. And now you're going to a water park? That is just not right!"

My parents wound up coming to church with me the next day. Throughout the service, they appeared extremely uncomfortable. As soon as the worship began, I immediately felt sorry for manipulating them to come to church by laying a guilt trip on them. I wished I had just offered them the opportunity to come to church on Resurrection Day. But what was done was done.

God is sovereign and He did use the situation. But throughout the entire service I could not shake the feeling that I had manipulated my own father with a wicked use of my female influence. I persuaded my father to come to church out of guilt. I felt awful. I knew I had sinned. In addition to wickedly influencing my dad, I did not trust God enough to work in my dad's heart. The Lord knew my father was going to have to undergo this biopsy -- He nudged me to pray for my dad three weeks before I even knew what was going on. But I had to usurp control from God and from my father by making a decision for my entire family that we were going to church together that weekend.

Why was I tempted in the first place? It was because I rationalized the situation and in my mind, my sin became justified. I assumed that because we live in Orlando, and it is hot all the time, they could go to the water park any time they wanted to -- but we are not guaranteed our next breath. Therefore, it was far better for me to get them to church now, and let them enjoy the water park later, rather than allow them to have fun today when they are not promised tomorrow. I reasoned with myself that they may never have another chance to go to church and hear the gospel. I reasoned that this was the perfect time since my father had to seriously contemplate his own mortality. I assumed my dad would want to come to church out of gratitude for receiving an answer to prayer. And in my mind, that was plenty reason to take control and start calling the shots. As a result, I put my father, whom I am supposed to honor, in a position of submission to me. Ugh. I cringe every time I think about it. Men are visual. We need to influence them by demonstration, not dissertation. There is absolutely no amount of words we can use to convince them of anything.

It is absolutely permissible to influence a man. In fact, God intended that to be woman's primary function. But we should be influencing men in an effort to edify, not to manipulate. Usually, our influence is most successful when we follow this formula: Show, Don't Tell.

Men are visual. We need to influence them by demonstration, not dissertation. There is absolutely no amount of words we can use to convince them of anything. In fact, the more words we use, the more likely the man's eyes will glaze over. We cannot speak to them in our language and expect them to understand. This serves us, but it doesn't serve them.

I have known my father long enough to know that he would not be comfortable at church. My dad has known me long enough to know that there is no place in the world I'd rather be. If I had simply kept my mouth shut, perhaps my father would have asked to come to church. Granted, that is highly unlikely, but if he did, not only would it have been his decision, but he would most likely have done it in an attempt to please me. When I nagged and manipulated, it was my decision, and my father did it out of obligation.

When a man does something for a woman, it usually stems from one of two motives: he is either genuinely trying to please her because he wants to, or he is trying to avoid her criticism. It's clear to me which of those two motives was in my father's heart when he came to church for me. Which of the two motives would the men in your life most likely say drives them to make you happy? Have you been influencing the men in your life in such a way that drives them to want to do whatever they can to genuinely serve you? The difference could cost you the greatest compliment of your life:


1 comment:

Bryan said...

Wow. For we know that all things, even flaws stemming from our human nature, work together for good for those that love the Lord, to those called according to His purpose.

When I'm going through things like this, or illness...well basically when I'm awake and conscious I get tremendous encouragement from Thomas Watson's "The Worst Things" from his "A Divine Cordial". In this case it would be point 4 of the worst things "The evil of sin works for good to the godly" and point 2 under that "The sense of their own sinfullness will be overruled for the good of the godly". If you're not familiar with it (you probably are) this should be of some comfort and encouragement to you.

Full writing:
http://www.biblebb.com/files/TW/tw-divinecordial.htm