So you’re a control freak? Welcome to the human race.
“Not me”, you protest. “You’ve got the wrong person. If you want to see a real control freak, look at so-and-so”.
OK, so maybe you don’t think you have a problem with control. My one-question test will prove you wrong. Simply answer this question honestly: Do you want your own way? Of course you do. Everyone does. You, along with the rest of the human race, are a control freak.
As we grow up, we learn that controlling others is not socially acceptable. That’s because the people around us are just as bent on control as we are. We learn to work out compromises to keep from destroying one another, and we become more adept at various subtle and crafty methods for getting our own way. That doesn’t change the fact that secretly (sometimes not so secretly) we still want to be in charge; we still want our own way; we still want to be in control. The drive to be in control has been at the core of human nature ever since the serpent tricked Adam and Eve with the alluring but empty promise of becoming gods unto themselves. This, of course, explains why human history has been so full of wars and conflicts.
We try to control others for various reasons. Some people try to control others simply because they love power, but in years of ministry I’ve observed that the most common motivation for control is not lust for power, it’s fear – ironically, fear of being controlled by someone else. We try to control others because we don’t trust anyone but ourselves. After all, the people around us are just like us – they want to be in control too – so why should we trust them?
The problem with trying to be in control is that no matter how good you are at it, eventually even the best system breaks down. And the more controlling you have been, the more lonely and isolated you will probably be when all your schemes finally crumble and you have to face the awful truth that you’re not God after all.
There is a remedy, of course. It’s called the cross. The blows we take in life are designed by God to lead us to this place of surrender. He places obstacles in our path not because He hates us but because He loves us and desires our freedom. When we’re finally willing to give up our illusions, He leads us to the feet of the One who is worthy to be in control — Jesus, the Lamb of God, who has demonstrated his worthiness by living a life in complete submission to the Father. He does not break the bruised reed of our life – instead he gently and kindly restores our soul and teaches us a whole new way of living.
Ironically, the more we get used to walking this path of surrender, the more real influence we can have on the lives of those around us. That’s because as our hearts are restored and the desire to obey God gradually replaces the desire for control, those around us find it easier to trust us and open up their hearts to us — and so we have the amazing privilege of planting and nurturing seeds of new life and hope in those who, like us, are discovering the bankruptcy of the world’s ways and learning where true freedom can be found. This is a life-long process, and it’s costly – but it’s also wonderfully rewarding, both in this life and in eternity.
Control freaks of the world, surrender – you have nothing to lose but your chains.