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The Cure for My Compulsion to Control – Part 1

Photo by Ashton Mullins on Unsplash

Last week I shared about how we can develop a compulsion to control other people, situations, and the Lord in this post. I thought I “had to try to control” other people and situations. I truly believed it was my responsibility and that everything would be a disaster if I didn’t make sure it all worked out right.

When I try to be in charge of things that are out of my control, I am trying to carry a very heavy weight that I was not designed by God to carry. This leads to extreme stress, frustration, depression, discouragement, anxiety, and a feeling of being completely overwhelmed. It is not the path to peace.

THE CURE FOR MY COMPULSION TO CONTROL IS VERY SIMPLE

meinchargeI need to have proper thinking about God, events, other people, and myself. I need truth.

In my old way of looking at things – subconsciously – I saw myself as very big and God and other people as rather small and mostly within my sphere of control. I would never have articulated it like that – because it sounds audacious. But this is how I lived. You could see it in the fruit of my life.

I am not saying it is painless or necessarily “easy” to give up control – but it IS simple when I see the differences between:

  • God’s responsibilities
  • Other people’s responsibilities
  • My responsibilities

Here is reality:

Goddiagram

 

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Ps. 8:3-4

When I understand who God is and the place of people in the universe, then I can begin to properly relate to God, people, and myself.

THE TRUTH

  • God alone is God, I am definitely not God. Not even close.
  • God sent Jesus, His Son, to be the only Savior people need. I am not a savior.
  • God’s Spirit is the only one who can open blind eyes and convict people of sin. Not me.
  • God sits on the throne in the highest heavens. Every knee will bow to Him alone.
  • God has put all authority under Jesus’ feet.
  • Angels bow down to God, even the demons believe and tremble.
  • God alone is worthy of worship. I am not.
  • God reigns over the universe. I do not.
  • God has all power and all wisdom. I do not.
  • God loves me, and all people, very dearly because He IS love.
  • I have value because God loves me and I am created in His image.
  • My purpose is to love and obey God and bring Him glory – and to love others with God’s love pouring through me.

I can influence God, people, and circumstances to a degree, for bad, or for good (if I allow God to work through me). But I can only control myself – my attitude, my motives, my sin, my responses to others, my words, and my actions. And even then, I can only control myself in a healthy way with the power of the Spirit.

Just to recap, my actual responsibilities are to:

  • Control myself with God’s power.
  • Love, obey, and worship God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength – which brings glory to Him.
  • Love others with God’s love.

God3

 

I can be set free from my illusion of control. And that is definitely all it was – an illusion.

God’s truth truly does set me free! I can repent from my pride – my huge pride – thinking I was so big and important. And humbly receive God’s truth. What freedom!!!! I seek only to control the things that are truly mine and I trust God with circumstances and other people.

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND WILL

Within God’s sovereignty is His permissive will and His perfect will. God’s permissive will is larger and accounts for people’s free will, their sin, the effects/consequences of sin, and Satan and his influence. But all of these things operate in the confines of God’s sovereignty and only what He allows can happen. And He uses all that does happen ultimately for His glory and for the ultimate good of those who love Him – to help conform us to the image of Christ.

He doesn’t make choices for us or violate our free-will. That is a good reminder for me that it is not my place to violate other people’s free-will either. God wants us, more than anything, to have the choice to voluntarily love Him or to reject Him. People need that choice in their relationships with me, too. The price of our free-will is very high. For us and for God. We experience earthly and eternal consequences of our choices. But we can never fall outside of His sovereignty and even Satan can never do anything without God’s permission. 

freewill3Godsperfectwill

This is how, in Christ, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He does the heavy lifting. He takes responsibility for the big stuff.

THE FIRST STEP ON THE PATH TOWARD PEACE

I can step down off of the throne of my life and invite Jesus to reign as Lord over every part of my life.

This means total, humble, absolute surrender to Him, His will, and His control. I hold nothing back from Him.

This feels pretty terrifying at first because I have only really trusted myself before. But as I taste and see that God is good, I begin to realize He is much better at being deity than I ever could be and He is trustworthy. Infinitely more trustworthy than I am! He is the only one who is truly worthy of all of my faith, obedience, and submission. I also begin to realize that trusting Him is wise and safe and trusting myself is the most dangerous place to be.

NOTE – Don’t just take my word for anything. Dig into the Bible yourself. Find out what God’s Word has to say about these important issues and choose to build your life on Christ and the Solid Rock of His Word!

RELATED

How to Have a Relationship with Christ

The Spiritual Healing That Is Available to Each of Us in Christ – by Radiant

7 Keys to Finding Real Peace

Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced

The Pain That Pushes Us to Control

Surrendering the Burden of Controlling My Husband – by Shannon Popkin

 

RESOURCES ABOUT GOD, HIS CHARACTER, PEOPLE, AND FREE WILL

The Attributes of God – by www.gotquestions.org

“Who Is God?” – Secret Church series by David Platt

In the Image of God – by John Piper

A Beginner’s Guide to Free-Will – by John Piper

 

RELATING PROPERLY TO GOD

Humility – by Andrew Murray

Absolute Surrender – by Andrew Murray (free download or audio version)

 

22 thoughts on “The Cure for My Compulsion to Control – Part 1

  1. I love, Love, Love 💕 the visual aids, they are easy to understand and speak to me.

    And i can only control what is mine…. with the Grace of Our Lord and Savior!

    Hallelujah, give God the Glory!

    Jesuscentreoflife

  2. I’ve been thinking about this post since it went up. The Lord is beginning to open my eyes to my compulsion to control others. It is a surprisingly difficult thing to stop. I can see now that it’s going to take time and plenty of prayer to overcome. The problem is that it has served me well in my working life, so it has been reinforced over and over.

    The funny thing to me is that I DONT WANT to control anything or anyone. In fact, I dislike people who try. Yet I hear controlling words come out as if they have a life all their own. If what exits the mouth is from an overflow of the heart, I have some serious work ahead.

    April, you must have had a hard road to travel and I’m encouraged that the journey is not impossible.

    1. Happily Gave Up,

      It is a big undertaking to begin to question your core beliefs about God, others, self, God’s sovereignty, our responsibility, femininity, masculinity, marriage, and everything else that I knew I had to start to question at the beginning of this journey. Yes, it is a long, difficult, sometimes painful journey. For several years, I did a lot more stumbling and falling than walking. But once I saw that my thinking was wrong and I saw my pride and sin, I HAD to change. I couldn’t stay where I was. I didn’t care what it took, I had to seek God with all my heart and ask Him to transform me. Whatever the cost. Whatever the sacrifice.

      Yes, it is a very difficult thing to stop trying to control others because the reasons behind our control are very deep-seated beliefs. Yes, it will take time and a lot of prayer – and the power of the Holy Spirit.

      Absolutely, the world often reinforces our compulsion to control others. Our family may reinforce it. School may reinforce it (it definitely did for me). Our jobs may reinforce it. Our own husbands may reinforce it.

      It is a shock to realize that I am responsible for what comes out of my mouth – and I will answer to the Lord for it. I can’t blame anyone else for it. I am responsible for my emotions and spiritual well-being. I am responsible for my reactions. Other people are responsible for themselves before the Lord.

      This is very challenging heart-work. It can be a bit excruciating at first, but it is the path to real healing, spiritual life, peace, and to knowing Jesus.

      I’m honored to get to walk with you on this road and will do anything I can to share the treasures of Christ along the way.

      I’m so excited about what God is doing in your heart! YAY!!!!!!! PRAISING HIM with you!

      Much love!

  3. Thank you for your encouraging words. I really needed them. I heartily agree that this is the Lord reproaching me and refining me. Pray with me that He will complete the work within me and that my spirit remains willing to learn.

    1. Happily Gave Up,

      Here is the awesome news – God has PROMISED to continue to good work He has begun in you. It is a done deal. So I praise and rejoice and thank God that He will stay with you and continue to help you grown and learn! I pray that your spirit might be soft, yielded, and pliable in His loving, Master’s hands. I pray you will stop fighting Him but allow Him, the Potter, to make your life into the beautiful masterpiece He has in mind.

      I’m right here if you need encouragement, prayer, or resources. Most of all, you have Jesus. That is the most important thing!

      Much love!

  4. All, just to give a little glimpse into my world at this moment:

    Right now, my family, my church family, and myself are reeling from several horrific scandals dealing with some vocational ministers and small group leaders and/or their families that all started from some very small things. Things that may have seemed practically insignificant. But if people had practiced proper boundaries and discipline, and were filled up completely with the Spirit, these things could have easily been completely avoided.

    Ministry is hard. Much harder than I could ever have imagined. There is constant spiritual warfare. Anyone who decides to minister for Christ will have a target on his/her back. And so will his/her family. We all need to be as well-prepared for the reality of the spiritual battlefield as possible, in my view.

    This doesn’t mean we forsake the battlefield. Or that we forsake God’s calling. It means we be sure that we are armored up and ready. That we take all the steps God desires us to take in preparation. And that we allow God to continually refine and purify us and that we have His protective covering over us and we don’t forfeit that by playing with anything that could compromise us spiritually.

  5. Hey April,

    Thanks for the post! I have been looking forward to this. I like the diagrams especially, they make the content very clear and help me to understand what you are writing. I think what you wrote is very, very helpful.

    I do wonder about something though, I read through the Desiring God links that were used here and one statement stood out, this one; “Affirming the will of God to save all, while also affirming the unconditional election of some”.

    I realised reading this that the thought of unconditional election (or unconditional choice) is what sticks in my craw, as it seems to me that the bible teaches conditional election (conditional upon faith), not unconditional election.

    As I follow this line of thinking it seems to me that God has decreed that our salvation is based upon faith, before we can become one of God’s elect. Whilst I can see very clearly that man is not in any way, shape or form able to save himself and we rely in entirety on God’s salvation and the illumination of the Holy Spirit, we do seem to be given in a choice as to whether we accept or reject that salvation and whether we walk in obedience after our salvation. This then gives us as people an element of ‘control’ over what happens in life (ie if I accept Christ then one thing will happen and if I reject Christ then another thing will happen), and I think that it is this element of control that makes me concerned about making ‘wrong decisions’ and also creates the mindset that if something bad happens then I must have made the ‘wrong’ decision. I think this is what gives me the sense that I can be in ‘control’ to an extent. Does this make sense?

    Also, I am sorry to hear about the situation at your church. I will pray for those involved. HF

    1. Humbled Father,

      I’m glad the diagrams were helpful and the post, too. Hooray!

      The Bible has so much to say about God’s sovereignty, man’s free-will, man’s accountability, election, and the Holy Spirit’s involvement in salvation. I have a feeling that our minds are a bit too finite to really comprehend the exact dynamics of how it all works together.

      Here is what I can tell. The Bible says:

      – God is sovereign over all.
      – God gives people free-will.
      – We are accountable for our own choices to God.
      – Our choices bring consequences – both on earth and in eternity.
      – It is God’s will that none should perish but that all should repent and come to Him and be saved.
      – The way to salvation is narrow and there are few who will find it.
      – We are not entirely free of the draw of the sinful flesh until heaven.
      – We are no longer slaves to sin but can choose to be slaves to righteousness. Although, we still can choose to sin – but, as believers – we can’t stay in sin. We would hate it.
      – We can’t come to God without the Holy Spirit drawing us.
      – God uses all things ultimately for the good of those who love Him and for His glory.

      There is certainly debate among believers over exactly how all of this works.

      I agree that we have a choice about whether we accept or reject God’s salvation. And that the consequences are very different depending on our choice. Heaven vs. hell.

      I also agree that we have control over whether we are obedient and over whether we allow the flesh or the Spirit to be in control each moment – and that there are very different earthly consequences for those choices. And there are different eternal consequences. If we are in Christ, and we choose to sin, we forfeit many rewards in heaven. When we walk in obedience and the power of the Spirit, we gain rewards in heaven.

      We do have control over some things, yes.

      Our will, our choices, our priorities, our decisions, our sin, our obedience to God, what/whom we worship, our preferences, and many things like this.

      And yet, we are still inside of the sovereignty of God.

      There are many reasons why “bad things” happen.

      1. We live in a fallen, cursed world in general.
      2. We do suffer consequences of our particular sinful choices.
      3. We suffer the consequences of other people’s sinful choices.
      4. Sometimes we make mistakes that are not sinful, and there are bad things that result from those decisions.
      5. Sometimes circumstances out of our control bring about bad things – disasters, earthquakes, hurricanes, mudslides, car accidents, disease
      6. Sometimes bad things are a direct attack from Satan.
      7. Sometimes difficult things are a test sent by the Lord.

      Sometimes there is an overlap of a bunch of the things in the list above and it can be difficult to untangle it all.

      Have you ever done a study on suffering in scripture?

      Thank you for praying. It is such a painful time for so many people.

      1. Humbled Father,

        The amazing thing is – even if I make a mistake, a wrong choice, or even if I stumble into sin – God can redeem that situation and use it ultimately for His glory and to help conform me to the image of Christ as I give it to Him and trust Him with it.

      2. April,

        Yes in a situation like that NOONE wins, at least in the short term. We know that victory is ultimately assured in Christ, but the pain that many people will feel will have ripples for a long time. I pray that throughout all of it people will be humbled with true repentance and that Christ will be exalted.

        Yes, I have done many studies on suffering from scripture. It is an expected part of walking with Christ.

        And yes, in so many ways our minds are a bit too finite to comprehend all of the dynamics. Piper acknowledged that towards the end of his article that you linked and if it were easy to understand then there wouldn’t be so many different views on it! I will continue to think on it. HF

        1. Humbled Father,

          I really hate sin! It causes SO MUCH pain. 🙁

          Yes, there will be ripples for a very long time.

          My prayer is that each person might be redeemed by the Lord through this. And I am thankful it was exposed and didn’t continue on and on in hiding.

          This is a topic that I believe we will seek to better understand our whole lifetimes. And maybe into eternity.

          Thank you for your prayers for all who are hurting at my past and present church. Both churches are impacted.

  6. I read somewhere that God did not give Satan and the demons a chance to repent..but we have this opportunity to be made whole spiritually and back into fellowship with God, which is how He always intended it to be. It shows how much He loves people and it is not His will that any perish.

    1. Jaimie,

      That is true. Satan and demons do not have any option to repent or be saved. What a blessing and privilege that God would love us so much to give us the opportunity to turn to Him and to be restored to fellowship. He didn’t have to do that for us.

      Thanks for sharing!

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