People try to assert or obtain control in many ways. One of the ways I have seen lately is through being nice. Sometimes people offer to help not because they really want to help, but because they want control. We can feel it when it happens. Something changes from “Joe is a super volunteer at church who is always willing to help” to “Joe makes sure he has his hand in everything.” A person who uses niceness to achieve control will offer to help, but rather than help you accomplish your task, they will have ‘helpful’ suggestions that end up challenging your direction. When that person comes up with a smile, they might think they are doing the right thing, but behind that smile could be a person that is trying to gain control. That might be a fake smile they are wearing.
We have all heard of the dark-side of kindness, if we think about it. The term “kill them with kindness” comes to mind. We also know that sometimes people will be kind, but then expect something in return. That’s not what kindness is about.
This is a tricky way to get control, especially in the church setting. Even as I write this, I find myself feeling guilty. How can I say such things about someone who is trying to help? I remind myself, though, that I am happy when someone is kind enough to help me. However, when the kindness seems to be directive, controlling, and demeaning, I will be quick to say, “No thank you.”