I have always known I am a control freak. I like things my way according to my time table done in my preferred manner. But, then again, who isn’t? Most of us have inflated senses of our own abilities and who we are and so honestly believe we know what is best for most situations. We know how people should drive and we make that very clear to those around us in all sorts of ways, from hand gestures to using our vehicles as exclamation points. We know how our friends should live and are usually vocal about how they have made the wrong choices. We like control even when we don’t have it.
This fact was made every clear to me just a little while ago. Our small church was getting a fresh coat of paint on most of its interior. One of my first jobs was painting rental houses,so I can be a little particular with how paint is applied to walls. We put out the open call to the church to come on down and help us, in their terms, "slap some paint on the walls." On one night, we had over 20 people come out wanting to help. It was great! It was such a great showing of the membership and demonstrated ownership of the church. It was a thing to be celebrated. And I hated every second of it. That might be an exaggeration. I loved that they were helping and were there, but I hated not having control of the situation.
Why do we want control? I think there are many reasons.
We want to have the power that comes with control. We have the power to get stuff done when we have control and we can see what we have accomplished. When we have control, we believe we are important and have power to do what we desire to do. We also desire control because we have an inflated sense of our own abilities. This is why we have the phrase: “If you want something done right, you got to do it yourself.”
We believe that only we have the skill and talent to do things the way they should be done. We also want control because we want to be our own God. Isn’t a desire for control part of what drove Eve to listen to the snake and grab what she thought was her destiny in her hands as she took a bite? God had control over her life and she wanted control over not just her life, but her circumstances as well. And we are the same.
But, not all control is bad. There are times when we should want control. Instead of thirsting for power, we should want the ability to serve people and that might require having some control over situations. We also might be the best qualified person to lead, and that means having some control to serve and love people well. This is not grasping at power and control, but an acknowledgement that we are the best ones for the job at hand. We want to point people toward God, and if it takes controlling what is going on to do just that, then we do it.
Ultimately, God is in control. The Bible makes that very clear. Just read verses such as Psalm 135:6 - “Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” And that is not a random verse either, but one of hundreds or thousands that addresses the fact that God is in control. So, we should know that when we seek control for our own purposes, we are seeking to usurp God as if that is possible.
We need to acknowledge God’s rule. When we do, we are freed from being a control-freak. If we acknowledge that God is in control, we are freed from having to feel like we need to control everything ourselves. It is in better hands. We are freed to take responsibility for our own actions and what we can control and to trust God in the rest.