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The Christian Addiction To Control (And How To Maybe Stay Free From It)


I have seen it too many times.

The church wants others to do less _____________ (drinking, cursing, fornicating, etc.) and more _____________ (praying, tithing, serving, etc) 

*And mostly in that specific church, not anywhere else.

But we have to ask ourselves, do we want them to start/stop doing those things for their benefit, or ours?

I think we have confused salvation with behavior-management and traded the good news for "good advice".

Our exclusive...

Only-we-are-right...

Advice.

Now, we don’t do it just to individuals, we have tried doing the same with society. We tell people how to follow the law, when to go to church, which TV shows to watch, how to have sex like a missionary, which politicians to elect.

We want to control people with "the truth", yet God called us to love people truthfully (which means, we love them even when they do the opposite of what we ask or expect).

I know, I know, it’s because we know better than them. #Pride

Or, we don’t want them to suffer as we did. #FalseHumility

Also, we want to protect them, and teach them, and help them. #Deception

And we expect the truth to be received because... hey it’s in the Bible and it's the truth! #SatanUsedThatTrickOnJesusSoNoThanks

Listen my friend... the truth is a gift, not an overlord.

Ok yes, the Church of Jesus has access to the message of truth. But if we use truth to control others, then that truth is not doing what Jesus said it should do: “Set you free!”

And if the truth is not setting people free, then it is making them prisoners. Jailed inside whatever version of truth we're selling that day.

Also, and I ask this with no shred of sarcasm, "who likes being around controlling people anyway?"



As Saint Augustine said, “The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.” 

That is why control is a snitch.

Because when pastors/this author/couples/parents seek power, it indicates the need to overcome an inner feeling of powerlessness. Control tells the truth about how we feel.

Jesus proved that we can be happy givers without having to control others. He knew internally who he was and what he was called to do. Yet he had no need to prove that by being controlling... exactly the opposite... he proved his ultimate might by being a servant.

He never controlled Peter’s stubbornness, or Thomas’ doubt, not even Judas’ betrayal.

He could’ve.

Maybe he should've?

But the ways of love are superior to the ways of power.

And Jesus is a teacher, not a puppet master. 🙌🏾

“Powerful people do not try to control other people. They know it doesn’t work, and that it’s not their job. Their job is to control themselves.” ~ Danny Silk

I’m realizing that most of the issues in my life have been created because of my addiction to control.

I want to control how my wife expresses her emotions. I want to control how my kids respond to my correction. I want to control how you respond to this article right now.

The truth is, I don’t need control. I want control. And that addiction/illusion is destructive.

Let me note that if you have ever been abused, neglected, abandoned, or experienced any traumatic event that made you feel like your life was out of control (with no protection), then it is completely normal to want to take charge.

I'm not here to judge our survival mechanisms, I just want to invite us to healing and a lighter way of living.

* If you want to course, because I don't want to be controlling, I'm just like suggesting you know ☺️

But seriously, controlling people (and controlling churches) create stressful environments for those around them. They control because they fear being harmed or exposed. And while trying to have dominance over a person or a situation they prove how insignificant they feel.

The good news is that the one who is (actually and fully) in control, wants to heal us. His love wants to override the fear.

And we can start with a simple step today: let’s hand it over.

Control.

This is a prayer from Laura Jean Truman I've been trying to pray more (and live daily). And I want to invite you to take a deep breath, and join me:

God, 

Keep my anger from becoming meanness.

Keep my sorrow from collapsing into self-pity.

Keep my heart soft enough to keep breaking.

Keep my anger turned towards justice, not cruelty.

Remind me that all of this, every bit of it, is for love.

Keep me fiercely kind.

Amen.

God wants to teach both the Church as a whole, and us as individuals, that it is possible to live a life where we are not enforcing our standards on others (while at the same time, being joyful in our convictions).

Remember, you just have to stay true to what God has called you to give up, what He asked you to surrender, what He invited you to stay away from (or what He's asking you to take a risk towards).

So focus on that.

Because controlling others is not a fruit of the spirit my dear reader... Self-Control is.

Stay free.

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* Images by David Hayward. Click on them to visit his site.

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Carlos A. Rodríguez is a pastor, an activist, and a communicator. He's the CEO of The Happy NPO and the author of Simply Sonship, Drop The Stones and the upcoming Proximity. Together with his wife Catherine, they have three gorgeous children and have moved to Puerto Rico to continue relief efforts all over the Caribbean (post hurricane Irma and Maria).
Support the non-profit by purchasing items here 👇🏾

3 comments


  • Rachel

    I feel like you were in my head…I say this all the time! It seems that some people who desire control are drawn to the church because they can get power there in a way they may not be able to do it in the world.

    People even want to control God’s word. Few people are willing to admit that it’s possible we don’t yet fully grasp its meaning—they just want to have all the answers to seem in control.


  • Alicja

    Beautiful post! Important message that not many realise!


  • Victor Omoti Alabi

    I can’t describe the feeling this reading just gave me. I really wish I could get more of this,Pastor. Thank you for sharing such truth. People that have power don’t try to control others cause the know it’s ……. That line is the craziest(I mean awesome) line I ever heard about power…
    Woooow!!!!!
    Can’t get this off my head right now..
    Thanks for sharing. Blessings.


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