How To Help Someone NOT Change


Dear Stephen,

I have this person in my life – maybe it’s my spouse, maybe it’s one of my kids, maybe it’s a friend – it doesn’t really matter. They have this sinful habit that drives me absolutely bonkers. They complain a lot. Or maybe they criticize me a lot. Or maybe they argue a lot. Or they don’t express enough care toward me. Whatever it is, it drives me cuh-razy! But here’s the thing. I DON’T want them to change. I want them get hardened in their sin.

What should I do? How can I help them NOT change?


Dazed & Confused

Dear Dazed & Confused (can I call you “Dazed”?),

My heart goes out to you. Your plight is a common one, and has driven many a spouse/parent/friend crazy. It’s like, WHY CAN’T THEY SEE IT?!?! Why do they keep doing the same thing over and over? It makes you want to smash your head against a semi-padded wall (a regular wall is much too hard).

So, how can you help them NOT change? How can you help them become hardened in their sins? It’s really rather easy. Two words:?get angry. That’s all there is to it! If you want to help a person not change, get angry every time they sin. Blow up. Be volcanic. Explosive even. After all, it says in James 1:19-20 –

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Getting angry at a person never produces true righteousness. Don’t get me wrong, if you scream loud enough, and slam enough doors, you can probably achieve some behavior modification. But anger never produces any change at the heart level.

Want your kids to be good ol’ fashioned Pharisees? Blow up at them regularly. Make them feel how angry you are. Scream if you need to. Every angry outburst adds another crust to their hearts. They may change outwardly, but they’re still the same on the inside.

We have this funny idea that if we can make people see how angry we really are, then they’ll change. If we can make them feel our anger, then they’ll finally get the point and change. But it doesn’t work that way. Anger actually has the opposite effect than what we intend. Anger hardens, love, peace, and gentleness soften. Anger condemns, the Holy Spirit convicts.

So fire up those anger jets! Get ready for a good screaming session. Stretch your arms in case your need to slam some doors (don’t want to pull a muscle!). If you can get good and angry, I guarantee your child/spouse/friend will never change.


Stephen Altrogge

+photo by?familymwr


  • Jennifer Van Wieren says:

    As I read this I also thought of two more things that may not work ;)…nagging and judging. It always helps me to spend a lot of time looking at things from their possible perspective…what might be going on in their life or heart that might make change hard? How might I feel if I was in their position? How hard has it been for me to change things in my life? How would I like to be treated when I am trying to change? What encourages me? I have become a big believer in strength of the Holy Spirit to change others (and myself). That statement sounds silly because of course it is the Holy Spirit that changes us, right? Also, I have been praying more. Instead of thinking that if I said or did the exact perfect thing to enact change, I pray instead. Thanks Stephen for this excellent post. I really need to read this to myself over again when I get frustrated with my children. Daily I need the Holy Spirit to work in my heart to help me love better.

  • DragonLady says:

    Ouch. Thank you. I needed this, but ouch. :)

  • Hillary says:

    Oh sure! You had to post this the day after the kids broke my laptop AND Kindle, didn't you? Sigh…. I GUESS it's rather timely then. I will go crawl under a rock now. Or maybe I'll just print it out and post it on the fridge to use as a preventative for Momzilla. Thank you for the great reminder.

  • Stephen Altrogge says:

    I think sometimes we think that we can be the Holy Spirit in other people's lives. We feel like if we nag or judge or get angry enough, we can cause conviction. But only the Holy Spirit can do that. I need to regularly be reminded of that as well!

  • Stephen Altrogge says:

    You're welcome!!

  • Stephen Altrogge says:

    Oh man! Laptop and Kindle?!? I'm really sorry to hear that. God can help you! There's new mercies for today!

  • Jeremy says:

    I appreciate this post. I was wondering what your thoughts are about showing anger towards children in particular who do something that could cause someone harm. My 3 1/2 year old son was very hot tempered when he didn't get his way. And he would lash out physically by hitting or kicking. Just so happens he hit his mom who was pregnant. I'm totally with you as far as not believing my anger can produce heart change in my kids. But when it comes to the safety of others, especially an unborn child, I'm not immediately looking for heart change. I'm looking for my son to never lay a hand on his mother again. Suffice it to say that I attempted to put the fear of God in him by expressing my anger in his actions.

    So I guess my question is this: under what circumstances is it right and necessary to aim for behavior modification in children in the short term by showing anger towards them, if ever?

    If you have time to give your attention to that question, I'd be interested to here how you come at it Biblically. If not, many thanks to you brother for bringing this subject to light.

  • Mike says:

    I have found when I want someone to really continue in their sin, one great way is to accuse them of specific motives for it by my amazing powers of discernment. In fact, I am so discerning that I can do it without the things mere mortals require like asking questions, considering patterns of their life, asking others who know them well or asking myself whether my concerns are biblical or something somewhat less than that.

    At one point, I wondered whether the actions of those around me were really even sinful or just my pet peeve, but I was able to discern that anytime I was annoyed someone was sinning against me and they should be stopped.

  • Tyler says:

    The best (or worst) part about this is that these angry responses come quite naturally. In reality, none of us needs to be taught any of these things. We not only have natural "gifts" in this area, but we all grow up with sinners who are pretty "gifted" at anger as well. Thanks for your reminder to be careful that our responses to others' sin, doesn't lead us and them into deeper sin.

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