3 Ways to Control Your Need for Control

This article was written by Kim Brightness and published by Team Jesus Magazine



It’s like a drug for some of us. A reachable high that never fails to satisfy, while we rock to our theme song by Janet Jackson.

If the world isn’t spinning in our all-knowing, ever-controlling hands, it would spin out of control into the dark recesses of the Universe – or so we think.  The object of our control needs our intervention. We’re only being helpful, and putting our great ideas to good use, right?

Worst case?

There are times when our controlling nature takes a hit and loses the game. We have to take that hard “L” and walk away empty-handed. We end up ruining a relationship or blowing an opportunity, and yet, we cling frantically to our consolation prize – “I lost, but I did it my way.”

Where does your need for control show up?

Do you find yourself constantly manipulating situations to make yourself look or feel important on your job, to your family, on social media? Are you in a relationship where every move, every decision must be dictated or approved by you – or it’s a no-go?

Beware: The ‘Control’ Drought Cometh

One thing I know about our Father – God won’t let our foolishness go too long without ordering our steps toward correction. Life happens, people and situations change. And now, what once was a flash flood of Control becomes a flash drought of “it’s out of my hands!”

Really God?

I remember one of my personal control drought stages when I dropped my youngest off to college. Can you say there’s nothing but desert and sand spurs now where rivers of control once flowed freely?

If there’s one place where the need for control shows up in all its glory, it’s in parenthood. From BEFORE birth, we control, guide, advise, and lead our children. While it adds up to 18 years of preparation for adulthood, it rarely translates into 18 years of learning to let go.

It hit me hard.

Unfortunately, parents – we don’t get a pass.

The need for control in our kids’ lives is just as revealing as the need for control elsewhere – it uncovers a lack of trust in and dependence on God.

It’s easy to become our own little “gods”. We unknowingly build altars upon which we expect others to bow to us. All the while, we humbly exalt our pride and our egos, and we diminish the sovereign power of God in the situation.

Maybe you’re in a season where you’ve hit your Control drought.  You’re used to running the show, and now you’re in process, learning to let go and let God.

Whether you’re entering, in, or leaving your Control drought, one thing you can trust and believe – the thirst for Control will hit you again. Remember, it’s like a drug.

Those thoughts of “Well, I’m just going to do this one little thing…” – stop it!  When your thirst for control flares up, consider these 3 points:

How to Control Control

1. Work on your own humanity.

How is it that a Controller needs to be controlled?  Face it, we’re all human, we all have issues. The problem is this: The 1 or 2 things we try to control with others, we have a long laundry list of things we can’t control in ourselves (Luke 6:42, ouch!). Spend more time helping yourself than manipulating others with your help.  Shift your attention to self-control.

2. Consider the physical, mental, and emotional stress of a control freak.

How often do stress and worry come with our need for control (1 Peter 5:7)?  Umm, they’re a total package deal, Team! Why? When you try to control and manipulate everything, you put yourself on the Throne of Responsibility. The outcome’s success or failure all falls on your shoulders. We internalize the stress and energy of monitoring, keeping track, keeping up, doing more – it’s too much! Let it go, and watch your physical, mental, and emotional health improve.

3. Tell the truth: Who’s better for the job – you or God?

As savvy as we think we are, we can never out savvy God. We don’t even come close. See, that’s often the price of success – the need to control pride.  When we have relative success in one area, we believe we know it all, or worse yet, we know more than God.  Stop telling yourself that lie! God is better equipped – omniscient and omnipresent – to handle every concern we have in our lives.

So, What’s the Play Call?

Move out of God’s way. When we move out of God’s way, we’ll move out of our own way. God will not compete with our need for control – it’s either His job or ours.

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