During 2016, I realized that I was struggling with control issues. (You may be saying, whoa Alex, that wasn’t that long ago. I KNOW! Leave me alone.) I was helping my wife at an event for her women’s clothing boutique. I helped my wife set up a tent, as most of the vendors do at these types of events. However, the wind was exceptionally out of control that evening.
I can remember holding the tent on multiple occasions as gusts of wind were coming through. After the 6th or 7th time (it was probably really the 2nd or 3rd time) I finally said out loud, “Man, I seriously wish I could control the wind right now, so this would stop!” First off, I know, that sounds stupid. But God used this moment to show me something about myself that I had not realized. I had control issues.
After I said these words, I felt within my spirit a new knowledge. It was the knowledge that I was struggling with control issues. I immediately knew that I had to make a change if I wanted to live in Godly freedom.
Before I cover the 5 ways Christians can let go of their control issues, I want to define the meaning and indicators of what it looks like to have this struggle in our lives.
Defining control issues
Control issues affect every human being at their core. Struggling with control issues means exerting influence over one’s environment or the actions or behaviors of another person. This sense of control is sometimes used excessively by those who fear the unpredictable and ambiguous, feel they need to prove themselves or fear losing control.
What are the signs of someone who has control issues?
If you’re not sure whether you have control issues or not, here are the 10 most common signs found in overly controlling people.
- You refuse to delegate
- If you feel the need always to prove yourself worthy or valuable
- If you’re a perfectionist
- You get moody when you’re not the one making the decisions and calling the shots
- If your expectations are not met
- If you micromanage people in your life, even if they aren’t working for you
- You are quick to judge the actions of other people
- You’re unhappy if things do not go exactly according to plan
- You constantly criticize people
- You have a difficult time following other people’s directions
Now that we’ve determined that you, like me, and ever y other human on earth have some level of control issues. I want to get into what we can do to get past these issues. This is important because you’ll walk in a place of greater freedom once you learn to let go.
5 Ways Christians Can Let Go of Their Control Issues:
Admitting that you have a problem is the very first step. “Oh Alex, everyone has control issues; it’s not that big of a deal.” Just because everyone is struggling with something doesn’t mean it’s okay.
Acknowledging the problem is the foundation for getting free. But I’m going to take this a step further. (Get ready for a big question!)
Are we ever really in control, really?
The answer is no.
This morning I was standing on the back porch reading; as I stood there, it was still cooler outside, but as I stood where the sunshine could hit me, I realized how much warmer it was. God made the sun. He made it produce heat, and he keeps it, providing that heat. Without it, we wouldn’t be alive. Or if the sun moved closer to the earth, we’d all burn up. It’s incredible to think about how in control God truly is; on the flip side, how out of control we all are. Even if I was the most successful person ever to live, I still couldn’t control the sun or keep myself warm if it stopped producing heat. It’s mind-boggling if you stop and think about how small you are. (That’s a post for another day)
Here’s another related story from last year. I was on an airplane returning home from a business trip. As we prepared for takeoff, the flight attendants were going through their typical deal about how you have to buckle your seat belt, find an exit, and other stuff that I really should remember at this point. But, this time, when they were talking about the cabin pressure changes, I thought about it, if the pressure change was severe enough, I could die within minutes. I had no control while I was on that aircraft. If something happened, that could be it.
My point is this, no matter who you are, you cannot entirely protect your life. Only God is in control life and death. So, we need to acknowledge that we are not in control in the first place. G.I. Joe PSA’s said this best, “Now you know and knowing is half the battle!”
Once we’ve acknowledged that we are not in control, freedom begins with surrender to God. If you want freedom from control issues, you have to put up your white flag. Give your struggle to God and let him take control over them.
The example I like to use for surrender is like the early battles for the United States of America. In historical battles, the idea of a white flag worked. But only because both sides knew what it meant and had an idea when it would be raised. This means someone on the winning side of the battle knew a white flag would be raised and they were watching out for it. God is just waiting for us to raise our white flag because he can already see that we’re not going to win on our own. It’s time to let go and surrender.
To a certain extent, self-control is an excellent mental skill. But one reason many of us struggle with it is because we’re not willing to surrender ourselves to God. Instead, we want to be more disciplined on our own. This is my biggest struggle; because I believe I can do it on my own. People say this to me all the time: “Alex, you have more self-control than anyone I’ve ever met.” That’s a great compliment because I’ve spent a lot of time developing my mental strength. However, as someone who has studied mental strength and self-discipline, I know I have limits – That’s because I’m human.
Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. – Proverbs 16:32
Self-control is another form of control that we must give to God. We will never be strong enough on our own; no matter what. Heck, (Sorry for the Christian cuss word) even David Goggins, one of the strongest people on earth, from a mental perspective, acknowledged that self-control has its place and limits.
Related Post: Stop Judging Yourself By What You Cannot Control
God rested on the 7th day of creation. We must understand what rest is because it’s part of our DNA. Rest is about showing trust more than anything else. The purpose is trust, Stillness, worship, and deepened connectedness. (Is that real word?)
Rest looks different for everyone. The idea of rest used to be a real struggle for me because I thought rest meant sleeping more and doing nothing other than sitting around while watching TV. The truth is, neither of those things relaxes me. What relaxes me is working out, reading a book, or hanging out at the beach. Rest consists of you doing what spiritually, mentally, and physically relaxes you.
Related Post: How to Rest Well
During Jesus’ ministry on earth, he often traveled by boat. One day while he was on a boat (Not like T-Pain and Andy Samberg) he was sleeping/resting. His disciples thought he was crazy because they were in a storm. This wasn’t an ordinary situation that someone should be resting in! Jesus’ actions spoke louder than words. He was saying that God is bigger than the wind and waves. Jesus knew he had to rest.
God is the one that makes things happen, not us. We need to learn to trust him through resting, not just hustling to get more and more accomplished in life.
This reminds me of another story in my life. In 2014 I was having some car issues. I let these issues; the circumstances of my life steal my rest. It affected my peace, which I know that it should not have done. I was stressed out about something I could not control. It wasn’t until I finally stopped and prayed that things changed. “God, help me to learn to rest. Help me to trust you and gain the understanding that my own abilities are smaller than your control in my life. Amen.”
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 NIV
If you’ve given your life to God, your life is no longer your own. The Bible makes this clear in Jeremiah 10:23, “Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.” When we remember that we belong to God, it’s easier to surrender, which in turn makes self-control easier to submit to God and to allow ourselves to rest. If we’ve devoted ourselves to God, we need to be spirit driven.
God owns us. We are His creation. He wants us to succeed and live a life full of joy and freedom. If we can gain this higher perspective, we can overcome our control issues. As a result, we’ll live a more joyful, free, and fulfilled life. You belong to God, and He loves you and wants the best for you. Never forget that.
Encouragement: Letting go of control is freeing, not restricting. You’re not giving up your power, you’re gaining it.
Before concluding this post, I have one more story to share on the topic of control issues. Years ago, I was one of the owners of an aerospace company. Along with being a business owner comes a lot of stress and extra work that people never realize. Then, one day we sold to another company. They kept me on in the organization. I got promoted, so I had even more responsibility. However, my stress levels dropped off, almost entirely.
Why was that? Because the fate of the company was no longer on my shoulders.
The same is true in our lives. When we realize we’re not the ones in control and we give that to God, it enables us to live the life that He has called us to live.
The Bible tells us not to worry about tomorrow. That’s because tomorrow is God’s responsibility, not ours. We are called to live life at the fullest today, while surrendering to Him, exercising self-control through that surrender, taking time to rest and refresh and releasing ownership of our lives.
When we begin to gain this perspective, we can start to live a more fulfilled life because we’re operating within the will of God and leaving space for Him to move. We can be the problem, the reason why we’re not further in life. Sometimes we have to get out of the way so God can make something happen. Here’s the thing about God, he’s rarely going to move you, you have to take that first step yourself.