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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : The Manipulation Pattern…A Mormon’s Favorite Tool » The Manipulation Pattern…A Mormon’s Favorite Tool

The Manipulation Pattern…A Mormon’s Favorite Tool

Don - October 13, 2004

Rusty’s post on a Bishop with a questionable leadership move got me thinking about this whole thing we call the “commitment Pattern.” It has been taught to us since we entered the YM/YW program and then had it drilled into our lives as missionaries. Even those who haven’t served recognize how it works. It is a simple pattern that anyone can follow to get others to take action.

Normally, we try to use this pattern in order to bring someone closer to God, but where do we cross the line in doing so from commitment to manipulation? Usually our intents are pure but our actions are not (and at other times our intents are not pure!). Over the past week or so I have been struggling with how to best present this idea. I asked a lot of people their opinions on the matter and failed to reach a consensus.

So, maybe the best way is to ask…WHAT is the manipulation pattern? How does it compare to the real commitment pattern? Finally, (and most importantly) how do we avoid falling into the trap of using manipulation? It is an important question because it happens all the time. We have all seen it happen.

Here is what I came up with at present. We start to commit people using the right reasons, but then bring in reasons that are irrelevant and attempt to force them into commitment.

For example, a missionary is attempting to commit an investigator to baptism. To try and persuade the individual, the missionary uses reasons that will pull at the person’s heart-strings. They will say “You love us, right? So why wouldn’t you want to be baptized?” instead of letting the Lord convince them through the power of the Holy Ghost and the doctrines of the church. They try to befriend them into the church.

This of course, is not isolated to missionary work. Everyone knows a story of a young man getting revelation that he should marry a certain young woman and tries pressuring her into the commitment even though she may have doubts.

I would venture to say that commitment is something that has already happened inside a person and we are just there to confirm and voice their feelings. Manipulation happens when we attempt to force people into something they have not prepared themselves to do. Are there times when people do not know they are ready for a commitment when in fact they really are? Sure, but I would consider that the exception that happens rarely and must be faced with much thought and prayer.

1 Comment »

  1. D&C 121 tells us how, by gentleness, etc. When we use these principles and do it with love it should be ok.

    I think manipulation comes when we use other methods to put our will onto someone else’s will.

    A question I would ask is: “Is it ok if the end justifies the means?”
    Isn’t it ok that the person is baptized because they like me and I ask them to do it? Or that the girl marries me, if that’s who I want for a wife? (maybe I should take my tongue out of my cheek)
    Bryce | Email | Homepage | 10.14.04 – 1:48 am | #

    Sorry the previous post is really mine, Bryce was using my computer this weekend and changed things…sorry.
    Don | Email | Homepage | 10.14.04 – 1:52 am | #

    I think you touched on it Bret. That Manipulation is the to control another, taking away any thought of free-will. There is also a decent amount of guilt in there as well, and thusly making one choose based on all the wrong reasons, which then makes it not really their choice anymore.
    And with commitment, I believe it occurs when one contends themself to an action. That they have made the choice for themselves and “we” have just been able to present the facts, almost given the options of choice.

    (By the way: Sorry about that Dad)
    Bryce | Email | Homepage | 10.14.04 – 5:11 am | #

    I’ve been having a hard time with this concept recently (I am not a Member). My cousin joined the Church after having been ‘fellowshipped’ by a family. They made her feel as if she were part of their family, but shortly after her baptism, they had no time for her anymore. I can understand their motivation (and that their goal has been achieved), however I do not think they realize the pain and bewilderment my cousin is experiencing now as a result of their actions. Her ‘dearest friends’ no longer want anything to do with her.

    I attended Sacrament meeting last weekend, and Enrichment last night, and no one realized that I was not a Member. I’m thinking that was a good thing, because I’d prefer NOT to be ‘loved into the Church’ if it means abandonment after baptism.
    Valerie | Email | Homepage | 10.15.04 – 10:11 pm | #

    Valerie,
    It is sad to say I have heard stories like yours on more then one occasion concerning your cousin. I hate to entirely blame the members (not that that is what you are doing) since they are just trying to follow the counsel in Moroni 6:4 where it talks about taking the baptized person name to remember them and nourish them with the Word of God. I guess that IS the problem though, huh. They were just being nice and not “nourishing with the good Word of God to keep them in the right way…” I wish born-in members of the church like myself had a better understanding of what it really is like to leave our old life behind and try to fit into a whole new culture/society.
    As for yourself, good for you! Make a commitment to the doctrine and gain a testimony of the gospel, not to enjoy the company of other members of the church. I hope for the best for you and your cousin.
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 10.16.04 – 1:49 am | #

    Valerie,

    I agree with Bret and he put it very well. Your cousin’s situation is unfortunate. It appears however that she doesn’t have a testimony of the gospel, doctrines, and it’s truthfulness and that’s why she remains active in the church even with a abandonment of her “friends”.

    The church is true…sometimes the members are jerks…in more ways than one.
    Don | Email | Homepage | 10.16.04 – 1:17 pm | #

    Yes, you’re exactly right that the members are not to blame. I think the error comes in bending over backwards to make someone feel welcome/loved/accepted, with the ‘goal’ of baptism (much like the commitment pattern you wrote about). . . which IS a noble effort. However, when the ‘goal’ is reached, they may find that they cannot maintain the time commitment that they’ve established, and maybe they no longer feel the motivation they had before either. Sadly, the new convert is left feeling profoundly rejected and not having any clue as to why. Personally, fellowshipping is the only cultural difference that I find difficult. I wish that I’d known of my cousin’s involvement with the Church earlier, but I did not hear about it until after the damage was done. Ah well. She feels hurt and betrayed, and unfortunately she now associates that with the Church in general.
    Valerie | Email | Homepage | 10.16.04 – 1:32 pm | #

    My post was too long. . .

    If I could have a wish granted, it would be that BIC members would understand that fellowshipping is something not understood by outsiders. It appears to be genuine overtures to lifelong friendship (and in the proper sense, I believe that is what it is ‘meant to be’). When a member goes all-out fellowshipping someone and that attention suddenly ends, it can be devastating. Your sense of reality is shaken. You no longer trust people (“Are they being friends because they like me, or do they want something from me?”). Well, enough of that! I just wish more people understood what it can be like on the receiving end.

    Thank you for the well wishes!
    Valerie | Email | Homepage | 10.16.04 – 1:32 pm | #

    Don — Yes, I’m sure you are correct. She also had her family speaking against the Church too (they are fundamentalist Christians that see the Church as evil). I regret that it all happened before I heard about it. :: sigh ::
    Valerie | Email | Homepage | 10.16.04 – 1:35 pm | #

    Geez! I was just heading out the door and realized that I hadn’t actually made my point! o_O

    Bottom line: Baptism without conversion can have a far reaching negative effect, like the ripples in a pond. It isn’t just the one person who is affected, but also their circle of family, friends and aquaintances who will hear the story of their ‘betrayal’ (as they see it), and may then pass it on to their friends. . . and on, and on, and on. . . spreading an image that ‘Mormons’ are not to be trusted.
    Valerie | Email | Homepage | 10.16.04 – 1:49 pm | #

    Valerie,
    Your point is well put. It’s interesting too, since the Prophet has put such an emphasis in retention of converts as of late. I guess it takes some longer to get it through their heads to think more long term then just “fellowship till baptism.”
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 10.16.04 – 4:36 pm | #

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