August 16 – You Can’t Change People

228 – You Can’t Change People

#faithbites #faithjourney people

We set it all the time: People not acting like how or believing in what we want them to. I don’t know about you, but I get frustrated and want to change them. I see people posting on social media trying to get people to change. In my daily life, I watch people try to force a change in a person to make it more amenable to them. Let me give you an example.

Story Time

Three people are in a room having just finished a project. We will call them person A,B,C

A says they have two extra hours as they thought this project would take longer to do. B says why don’t you take some you time and get a coffee or something. Person A says I may just do that, then invites Person C to join them for coffee. C thanks Person B for the work they did and respectfully declines the coffee invitation. A says thanks and heads off. 

Now, person B could get upset that they didn’t get invited. They could wonder what they did wrong. Or, they could look at the history of person A and realize that they have a different nature than B and C. It’s not a good or a bad thing but something that they are. While Person B may be upset, no matter what they do, Person A is who Person A is. 

Here’s the simple truth: You can’t change people. This is something that is very hard to come to terms with in life. I have a desire to help and change people. What I have learned though, is I can only influence change, not make change in people. As the old saying goes: You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.

Scripture on Changing People
  • I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord – 1 Corinthians 1:4-9
  • And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. – 1 Thessalonians 5:14

You may notice that these two scriptures are very different. (I have to give credit to the Biblestudytool.Com website for help on this one). These passages point out two very important aspects in life: give thanks to the person and occasionally correct. The first passage, reflect on how important it is to encourage and affirm people. To thank them for who they are and the gifts they bring. By giving them praise for the things they do and the role they play in your life, it makes them feel valued and more open to change. The second passage shows how to give feedback but most important is to be patient. You can’t fight fire with fire. Little nudges here and they can change a course.

Even with encouraging and giving feedback, you can’t force someone to change. While you may influence them, it is up to them to make the change. What you may see as a subtle change, maybe a huge step for them and something they won’t or can’t do. Just remember: be patient with them.


Think about someone in your life who you value and care about. Then think about something that you would like to see changed. Next, remember you can’t change them but influence them. Finally, find ways to encourage and provide feedback that may help them want to change.

Lord, give me the strength to realize I can’t change anyone. I can only change myself and influence others. Help me to always be patient with everyone I meet.

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