Trapped by Control

Day 1 of 4 • This day’s reading



Ten years ago, I never would’ve called myself controlling. Now, as I teach my kids the “right and wrong” way to load the dishwasher and hang the toilet paper, it’s apparent that I have more than a few issues.  

We use control to force others to do what we think is best. It’s our way of attempting to guarantee a specific outcome. Even when motivated by good intention, control is a deceptive and messy sin that ruins relationships and holds our minds captive. We end up causing pain, conflict, and confusion while disrupting God’s ability to shape the outcome He knows is best.

Now, not all control is negative. Kids need to wear seat belts, and rules are necessary to avoid chaos. It becomes counterproductive when there is no flexibility, and our way is the only way. Control looks different for each of us, but here are a few ways we can recognize it in our lives: 

  • We get upset when someone doesn’t do what we ask. 
  • We obsess over everything turning out "right".  
  • We become angry when things don’t go as planned. 
  • We command people to stop or start doing things.
  • We experience anxiety when things slip from our grasp.
  • We struggle to accept people’s “no” and convince them of our “yes”.  
  • We need to have the last word. 
  • We continually explain ourselves.
  • We worry everything is spinning out of control.
  • We resist trying others' ideas. 
  • We interject our thoughts into most conversations.
  • We yell or nag. 

We have a difficult time identifying our controlling behaviors because they often stem from our God-given passions and traits. For example, if we feel passionate about serving, it’s tough to understand why others don’t value the same thing, and we end up judging them. Believing it’s for their benefit, we try to force them to have the same passion, by controlling them. 

When we control people and situations, no matter how well-intended, it is selfish and self-serving. To start letting go, begin identifying the actions and words you use to control others. Which actions or words would you or someone close to you consider controlling?