Free Choice or Coersion?

I need help! That’s right–me–who always prays for everyone else. But today, I’m the one who needs help getting past my own obstinance! I have issues with people attempting to coerce me into doing anything.–serious issues.

I know I’m not the only person who responds negatively to coersion. I believe most of us dislike being manipulated, no matter how ‘righteous’ the motivation. I mean, come on, If God himself trusts us to make our own free choice about our relationship with Him, then everyone else should just let go of their need to manipulate and control. Yeh right . . .

I think the need to manipulate and coerce  comes from a basic infantile urge to control our environment. The more we need to believe we are ‘in charge’ the more we attempt to manipulate and control. We’ve all seen it, right? The adults who aggressively attempt to make every decision for their kids, family, friends, or colleagues? The kids who have to be ‘on top of the heap’ in every game? The directors who spend their interactions attempting to control or eliminate every member of their team who has a different view of the program? Bosses, who micromanage workers’ tasks and performance? This choice-adverse profile is darkness, but it’s everywhere. And it’s more than a little annoying to the rest of us.

There was a research project from the late 1970’s, “Psychological Responses to Loss of Freedom,” that I carried around for years, just for the title! Basically, the research posits that attempts to control or manipulate create a psychological response, reactance, that helps the person being manipulated gain back the freedom to choose.

All this is preamble to what I’m dealing with–my own resistance to being monitored for attendance at church. Now that I’m ambulatory, I want to go to second service. My friends who had been driving me to church are more ‘old-church’ types, and have lots of friends in first service. They wanted to go back to the more traditional-type first service.

So now they’re spending their energies attempting to make sure I’m in church, and I’m spending my energies attempting to hide from them. Get it?

Anyway, I love my friends, but I realized that I needed to ask them to back off. Finally seeing that, and seeing my own ‘reactant’ character has me reflecting seriously on how Jesus did it–how did He motivate folks to see things His way. I am pretty sure I’ve found the key–it’s testimony. More to come…


One response to “Free Choice or Coersion?

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