4 (Godly) Ways to Handle People Who Hijack Your Day

I got hijacked.

Yes, you read that right.

Every Monday at 7:30 am. I meet a former neighbor for a walk around a lake near her home. Today, one of my friend’s neighbors invited herself to join us.

Normally, welcoming a stranger into our morning ritual wouldn’t be a problem. However, I was on a tight time frame and needed to be back, dressed, and at the dentist by 9:30 am. I figured fair warning would keep us on track, so I joked, “Ok, but we’ll need to walk fast!” The three of us laughed and started on our way.

All went well until halfway into our walk the stranger suggested a detour. “Let’s go this way. I like it better and it’s a shortcut.”

“Are you sure?” I asked, hesitant to follow her lead since I was certain about our normal course, which we’d timed to the minute.

When she persisted, I relented, though my inner voice screamed, Don’t do it, girl! Don’t do it! Honestly, I didn’t have the backbone to say “no” in the face of her tenacity.

As time ticked by, and our end was nowhere in sight, I began to question the wisdom of taking an untested path. Finally, I voiced my concern, although a bit timidly.

“I’m not sure I’ll have time to get dressed.”

“Oh, don’t worry. It’s no big deal to stay in your workout clothes all day,” she countered casually, with a total disregard for my plans.

Cue the thought bubble that goes on inside our heads; the one that’s filled with things we think but don’t say:

Well…it’s a big deal to ME. 

Ugh. I allowed myself to get hijacked by a stranger.

But, I didn’t have to.

You know how this feels. You’ve been hijacked, too.

So, why share my personal story with you?

Because the world is full of people who feel utterly comfortable stepping into our boundaries, controlling our time, and hijacking our plans. Most of these folks aren’t bad people, they’re normal people; neighbors, co-workers, friends.

We need to know how to deal with a potential hijack in an appropriate, Christ-honoring way.

But first, is getting hijacked always bad?

Not at all. Getting hijacked can be a good thing; sometimes, the best thing.

Occasionally God intentionally puts people–both those we know and those we don’t know–in our paths whose need supersedes our petty plans. These are the hijacks God wants us to welcome.

Other times, though, like when someone imposes their agendas on ours, or when we hijack ourselves by choosing distractions over getting things done, being hijacked causes more harm than good. The stress we feel when we allow ourselves to be unnecessarily hijacked tells us so.

4 Ways to Deal with People Who Want to Hijack Your Plans:

  1. Recognize a Hijack Attempt

Jesus was a master at not allowing Himself to be hijacked, though his adversaries constantly tried. What was His secret?

First, Jesus was crystal clear on God’s purpose and plan for His life. Jesus said, “I came to seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) Anything or anyone that attempted to pull Him away from His purpose was simply not entertained.

Similarly, when we’re clear on our purpose we can more readily recognize someone or something that’s attempting to hijack us.

So, whether our purpose is major (like prioritizing our family) or it’s minor (like making an appointment on time) clarifying our purpose helps us recognize a potential hijacker and act accordingly.

  1. Positively Redirect Hijackers with Innocent Motives

Usually, people who try to hijack our schedules aren’t intentionally trying to get us off course; they are good people with innocent motives. Think about the friendly co-worker who sticks her head in your door when you’re in the middle of a project. Consider the child or spouse who wants to tell you about their day when you’re frantically searching for your keys. These folks aren’t seeking control, they’re seeking connection. 

A positive response to an innocent hijacker is to say something like, “l can’t wait to hear all about __________, but can we chat when I can give you my full attention?”

  1. Refuse to Get Hooked by Hijackers with Selfish Motives

Not everyone has pure motives. In the real world, some people are more concerned about their agendas than yours. These folks can be hard to spot because they’re often manipulative.

So, how do we handle these people?

Again, let’s look at how Jesus dealt with this kind of potential hijacker:

15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words.16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away. (Matthew 22:15-22)

 

People with self-serving agendas often use flattery as a means of manipulation. Their end goal is never connection; their end goal is control.

Jesus models how to handle folks with selfish, manipulative motives: 1) recognize manipulation and 2) refuse to get hooked.

The person who gets hooked gets controlled.

(Side note: this may be an important concept to discuss with your pre-teens and teens.)

  1. Practice the Word, “No”

When we don’t say “no” when we should say “no” we put ourselves in impossible situations, take on responsibilities we can’t adequately manage, add unnecessary stress to our already full lives, and sideline our priorities and plans. As a result, we leave no margin for error, no space for joy, and no room for rest.

Instead, we allow ourselves to be hijacked–not to a sandy beach with sunshine, but to a land that feels more like Siberia!

But, here’s the thing: If we don’t say “no” to one thing, we can’t say “yes” to a better thing.

Do you recall the story of Mary and Martha–the one where Martha was busy doing all the work while Mary sat listening to Jesus? Martha marched up to Jesus and demanded that he tell Mary to help her.

Jesus told Martha, “no.”

But, why?

“Mary has chosen the better part and I’m not going to take it away from her,” Jesus explained.

Jesus refused to allow Martha to hijack Him, or Mary because Jesus understood that a wise “no” opens the door for a wiser “yes.”

Jesus invites us to a life of wiser “yeses”. But, like life then, life now is full of people who threaten to hijack God’s best purposes and plans for our lives. However, when we recognize our hijackers and follow Jesus’ example in how we handle them, we’ll live on purpose, with purpose. We’ll evade people who want to control us and embrace people who want to connect with us. As a result, we’ll experience less frustration, enjoy more fulfillment, and live more fruitful lives.

How do you successfully handle people who try to hijack you? Share your wisdom by leaving a comment.

You are loved,

Donna

P.S. Follow Donna on Instagram @donnaajones or @donnajonesspeaker. She’d love to connect with you there!

Questions to Consider:

  1. Do you find it easy or difficult to say “no”? Why?
  2. How can asking “does this person want to connect with me or control me?” give you insight into how to handle a potential hijacker?

Comments

  1. Vicki

    Dear Donna, your wisdom-filled words are spot on for a recent circumstance of hi-jacking in my day. God ALWAYS provides insights (thankfully) by means of others, you are my “other” today, thank you!!! I generally have no trouble with the word “no” for good boundaries and accepting I cannot handle it all (giving up control). However, I found myself sidelined and distracted for awhile by text messages (huh, go figure) while at work. NOT my norm, concerned about hearing from family, instead got tangled up in a mess of text-threads that quickly became “knots”. Held myself accountable to my sponsor ( I’m in Celebrate Recovery) on the drive home, explained the difficult meeting day before that generated the texts. Please pardon all the details, but wanted to share that my ACCOUNTABILITY to others helps me get back on track to avoid the hi-jacks. I’ve learned thru God’s grace and patience with me that when I spill the beans on myself and receive guidance and wisdom from Jesus-like women, I am reminded that I CAN say “no” to distractions because I say YES to what He has for me. Thank YOU for such practical life lessons and encouragement!!!

    1. donnajones

      Thank you for sharing how helpful (and important!) it is to have accountability to keep us from being hijacked. Your comment is so practical. I’m going to remember this. 🙂

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