Don’t Try to Change People. Just Love Them.

Love is an art. Love also requires knowledge and skills. Love is not easily made with few formulas. Humans are very complicated and mysterious beings. As we age, we think we know people to a certain degree, but we could never fully understand anyone. Knowing oneself is a great task. Numerous people die without fully recognizing who they are. Those who know their temperament and inclination, their strengths and weaknesses, and their gifts and talents are bright people. Those who know the existence of the unlimited potential and possibility within them and know how to use them are truly wise people. Those who know their emotions and know how to manage their emotions are discerning people. It’s a beautiful thing to know, to overcome, and to transcend oneself. Above all, it is a great thing to know oneself and the will of God toward oneself and to live a life of fulfilling the will of God for one’s life.

I believe a person is changed through love. In particular, a person is changed when he or she encounters and receives God’s love. However, for a person to change and mature is not a simple matter. Rather than to change and mature, people have a greater tendency to degenerate. Just as a person cultivates a garden, when a garden is not tended well, weeds begin to cover the garden. One of the contradictions of people is that while knowing how difficult it is for ourselves to change, we often live with anger and frustration when others are not changing.

It is the art of life to build a good relationship together with people. Love is something we learn. We polish up our skill of love by learning and applying love. One of the skills of love is that of accepting a person as he or she is while not forcing them to change. Everyone wants to be accepted. People appreciate and love those who receive and accept them just as they are. We often think that others are wrong. However, being different doesn’t necessarily mean one is wrong. It is the art of love to love and enjoy the differences.

We like those who see and tell our inner strengths and good things rather than our inner weaknesses and bad things. In order to love maturely, we must be disciplined to see and tell of the good characteristics of the other person. No one likes people who always tell him or her the bad things the others see in him or her. We spend a lot of our time trying to change other people’s habits. However, the reason we come together is not to fix each other’s bad habits, but to love one another. It is to rejoice in each other.

Changing people is ultimately God’s job. Paul clearly understood this truth. What we can do is to plant a seed and to water it. We can even possibly create a good environment for a seed to grow well. However, the one who makes the seed to grow is God. In Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, he said, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6).

When a mature spiritual leader meets people, he creates a space for God to work. We must know what our role and limitations are. The one who changes people is not us, but God. Therefore, what we can do is to make a space for God to work. It is to create an environment where people can experience change by encountering God. This is done through the meditation of the Word and through the prayers offered during the meditation. When we rest upon the Word, a space for God to work is created. That is when God intervenes and helps us to be changed and matured. What man couldn’t accomplish with years of efforts, God makes it happen in a moment. Don’t try to fix people’s habit or weakness by trying to change people through a human method. Just love them, and make space for them to be able to encounter God. God will intervene in their lives at the most appropriate time and allow those people to grow.

Joshua Choon Min Kang
(Photo : Courtesy of New Life Vision Church)

Reverend Joshua Choon-Min Kang is the senior pastor of New Life Vision Church in Los Angeles, CA.

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