Most of us have experienced having someone try to control our lives and decisions for us. Unless we are extremely emotionally and spiritually unhealthy, we did not enjoy the experience.
Some of us have tried to control other people’s lives and decisions, too. (Cough, cough. Like me. For over 14 years of our marriage.)
In marriage, what one spouse does affects the other. And we can certainly have discussions, collaboration, and input into each other’s lives.
But we don’t have the authority to try to control another person’s thoughts, words, or actions. If we try to do this, we will repel our spouse and hurt our marriage.
Even if I am in a position of God-given spiritual leadership (like a mother, a boss, or a Sunday School teacher) I don’t get to control others and govern their free-will. I can lead them. I can set a godly example. I can teach. As a mom, I can discipline wisely.
But I don’t get to exert mind-control. I don’t get to make other people’s decisions for them.
Why do we try to control others?
Why do some of us not understand that each adult has free-will from God to decide things like their spiritual beliefs, priorities, attitude, dietary choices, hobbies, career choices, parenting style, personality type, and other personal decisions?
Often, we developed warped views of God, self, and others in childhood that have never been corrected. Sometimes, this happens because the adults who should have taken care of us were irresponsible, absent, or addicts. Other times, we thought we had to be overly responsible for our siblings or other people because of something traumatic that happened or we misunderstood theology.
We are often blind to our control. All we can see is our woundedness, anxiety, exhaustion, and pain. We think if we have control, we can avoid more pain.
We feel responsible for others and we expect them to be responsible for us, too.
We expect others to make us happy and whole, to fill us up and meet the deepest needs of our souls that really only Jesus can meet. We can’t see any other perspective.
A Peek into a Controller’s Mind
It is terrifying for a controlling person to think of giving up control. They don’t realize their control is only an illusion. They think they are seriously holding everything in place by their efforts, wisdom, and strength.
They think if they stop trying to manage everyone and everything, their world and everything they love will collapse into a ruinous heap of rubble.
The problem with trying to get a controlling person to give up control is that those who try to control others are generally deceived.
You can’t just address the problem on the surface and say things like:
- You shouldn’t try to control people.
- You worry too much.
- You are exhausting yourself trying to carry all this emotional weight.
They usually believe that it is their God-given responsibility and duty to try to make other people’s decisions for them to love and protect them. I believed this! There are deep-rooted core beliefs in error here that need to be addressed.
They have taken on some of God’s authority or other people’s authority that doesn’t rightly belong to them but they probably don’t see where the boundary lines are. It is actually exhausting and miserable to live this way. We weren’t designed to carry that kind of weight.
When other people tell them to stop controlling or stop worrying, they hear, “You need to stop loving me,” and that doesn’t make any sense. They hear, “You need to give up your God-given responsibilities,” and they know that can’t be right. They know they are supposed to love other people and that they are supposed to take care of their responsibilities.
The people who confront them are clearly wrong, in their minds. The controllers are still thinking with the old sinful nature with self on the throne and pride at the helm, not the new nature available to them in Christ.
Controllers have a skewed understanding of love and which responsibilities belong to each person and to God.
A Controller Expects to Be Idolized
Unfortunately, controlling spouses believe (consciously or unconsciously) they should be idolized and others should submit to their will, rather than to God’s. They have self on the throne of their hearts and idolize themselves and they expect others to do the same.
They probably wouldn’t say this or admit it even to themselves. But this is what they actually believe deep down. I did this. I would never have consciously admitted it. But I did expect everyone to do what I wanted all the time. I thought I was always right. I thought people should defer to me. Whew! It was a lot of pride!
For their spouse not to bow to them the way they desire, it is a serious “offense” in the controller’s mind. It is practically tantamount to “blasphemy.”
For a controller to give up control creates a LOT of anxiety and fear, maybe also anger. They believe their world will fall apart if they are not orchestrating and overseeing everything. They believe their loved ones will be unprotected and in danger. It is as if someone is asking them to stop being God and to step down from the throne.
Who will sustain the universe if they resign their position of control and sovereignty?
They don’t yet understand God’s sovereignty and have a small picture of God’s power and a huge picture of themselves and their responsibilities.
They don’t understand that God gave each person free-will and that God, Himself, honors our free-will. They can’t see yet that people don’t have the right to try to commandeer other people’s responsibilities before God.
There Is Hope! Controllers Can Find Freedom and Healing in Christ!
Ultimately, only the Holy Spirit can open our blind eyes to these important truths.
- God alone is God.
- I am not God. Not even close.
- All people have God-given free-will. Each person is responsible for his/her own choices in life.
- Things won’t fall apart if I step down off of the throne and exalt the Lord as God. In fact, this is the first step toward my healing.
It takes lots of courage, solid teaching, the power of the Holy Spirit, and humility for someone to be able to see their error and to allow God to help them tear out all their old toxic thinking and rebuild their lives completely on God’s wisdom and His Word.
We recognize the insane amount of pride we have in our hearts that we demand to be treated as equal to or above God. We recognize that this was Satan’s sin and it was his temptation to Eve, as well. That same old playbook still works on us.
We humble ourselves before God and admit that we are wretched sinners and that in us, there is nothing good. Only God is good. Our wisdom is worthless. Our efforts are destructive. Our attempts to love are toxic. We need God’s help desperately!
We need a Savior and Lord who can cleanse us and make us right with God.
We put our old self to death on the cross with Jesus daily. We receive our position in Him as dead to self and dead to this world and sin. We choose to deny ourselves, our pride, our wisdom, and our will. We yield completely to the Lordship of Jesus.
We allow Him to shine the blazing light and truth of His Word into the darkest corners of our hearts and minds and we allow Him to get rid of all the poison and replace it all with His abundant Life.
We allow His Spirit to flow into us so that no matter what anyone else may do, we respond with His Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)
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Spiritual Authority Class Notes – by a minister at my church, Harold Weaver
The ABC’s of Salvation
A = Admit you are a sinner and you can’t be perfect and holy enough in God’s eyes to be right with Him on your own. Turn away from your sin. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom. 3:23
B = Believe that Jesus died on your behalf to pay the price for your sin and to give you a way to be right with God – to be forgiven. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus, our Lord.” Rom. 6:23
C = Confess with your mouth that Jesus is your Lord – this means, Jesus is now your Master and you live your life for Him and His glory rather than for yourself from this moment on. You say it out loud to others and you live it every day. “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved.” Rom. 10:9-10
Lordship Salvation – by Got Questions