Trusting God To Keep It All Under Control

No one wants to be considered a control freak unless they are speaking to their own idiosyncrasies. We’ve all seen the magnet or t-shirt that says, “Mr. Right & Mrs. Always Right.” We chuckle and grin at the thought. We all like to be right, and we likely all know someone who really loves to be right – all the time. However, having an appreciation for being “Mrs. Always Right” doesn’t necessarily mean that we are a control freak. Whew!

The psychological description of individuals who are given the title of “control freak” exhibit these symptoms (and more) -
  • They have a strong compulsion to micromanage all situations.
  • They refuse to admit they are wrong at all costs.
  • They always have to have the last word.
  • They demand perfection of themselves and others.
  • There is no room for ambiguity. All is either black or white.

What is ironic is that a ‘control freak’ is actually one who feels very out of control. Because of their insecurities, they try to control situations or people who inhibit their ability to secure a sense of safety and self-worth. Whether or not an individual can be clinically defined as a ‘control freak,’ or is merely someone who attempts to control others from time to time, they are not at peace with themselves. It is easier for the controller to project their discontent on someone else rather than to deal with their own personal issues and deficiencies.

Efforts to control can be displayed in different forms such as -
1. Passive Aggressive Controllers (manipulative while playing ‘the victim’)
2. Triangulating Controllers (using others to get the desired end result)
3. Undermining Controllers (slanderous and deceptive)
4. In Your Face Controllers (intimidation and bullying)

Controllers can create true havoc in friendships, in the workplace and in the church environment. In fact, a fellow pastor’s wife tried to control me in our early years of ministry. When face to face, she appeared to be friendly, but over time her attacks became more vicious. So, with fear and trembling (literally) I followed the Biblical mandate to sit down and talk with her. The meeting did not go well as far as gaining any ground toward reconciliation, but the crux of the matter did come to the surface. The defense for her behavior was this – “I was treated horribly when I was a pastor’s wife, so you need to know what it feels like too.” And that was the end of our discussion. Ouch!

Several positive things came out of this meeting.
1. I survived my first Matthew 18 confrontation.
2. I learned that I had not personally offended my accuser in any way.
3. I saw that others (her husband) are often loyal to the offender even when they witness the offense.
4. I determined then and there that I didn’t want to become an ‘old, bitter pastor’s wife!’
…and that has been my prayer for years.

Fast forward 30 years, and I have only had four other Matthew 18 moments where I sat down with someone for the purpose of seeking understanding and resolution. None have turned out well which actually makes sense to some degree. When prayer, increased interaction and healthy communication do not bring about a positive resolution, it becomes obvious that there are deeper issues and motives at hand. In each situation, the one that was trying to control me had a different agenda.

1. One blatantly refused to be a team player or follow the agreed to guidelines of a ministry endeavor.
2. One believed I was the manipulator and refused to believe that the pastor made his own decisions.
3. One wanted to do things their way and in their timing only – without regard to other circumstances.
4. One was unwilling to “agree to disagree” on a matter and blatantly divisive behavior followed.

When dealing with controllers, we must guard our minds, hearts and emotions from a natural tendency toward spite, bitterness and oppression. Forgiveness is key to our personal health and well-being, and we must remember that forgiveness is a choice and is not dependent on our feelings. Romans 12:18 sums up the goal we must all aim for - “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Living at peace can take many different forms in daily living, but the hope is always restoration. And, you just never know when the controller may actually ask for forgiveness  - which actually happened (via my husband) in the case of the bitter pastor’s wife. Now, I look forward to the day when I will meet her again in heaven - and can give her a big hug!

Bottom line: Whether we feel in control or out of control in the midst of life, we can put our full trust in God, because He is the only One that can truly keep it all under control! 

…and in that we can know we are safe and secure in His care! “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6


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