The Lord periodically reminds me that I need to beware of trying to take control when I shouldn’t. It happens so subtly. Even though God has given me a helpful way to discern when I’m overstepping my bounds (see my article, “Communication: God’s Role & My Role” in the communication category), I still slip up now and then. I’ll share a recent example.
I have a 39 year old special needs son named Shon. Like all of us, he likes to have as much control over his life as possible. One day, I learned that he was sometimes feeding his dog human food from the dining table. There were two negative results: (a) the dog would sometimes jump up and take food and (b) the food sometimes made the dog sick.
I told our son I had an idea: he could put his dog into her kennel while he’s eating. He subtly resisted the idea. What I should have done, at that point, is said, “OK, it’s just a suggestion. What ideas do you have?” Instead, I tried to convince him it was a good idea. That only upset him. The ultimate goal is for my son to exercise self-control, and that’s a matter for prayer.
Later that day, the Lord revealed my mistake to me. So I told Shon’s helper to just ask my son if he wants to put his dog in her kennel when it’s time to eat, and then do as he says. Meanwhile, I just prayed. A few days later I learned that Shon was no longer feeding the dog from the table.
In short, it’s fine if I present ideas for someone to consider, but I shouldn’t try to persuade them to do what I’ve suggested.