Few people like to admit that they have a strong need to be in control, unkindly or perhaps aptly referred to as ‘control freaks’. Some of the signs are that they often correct or belittle others, find themselves judging people, refuse to admit when they are wrong, sometimes use the silent treatment as emotional blackmail and always need to have the last word. Whilst this may apply to how they relate to others, ironically they themselves lack self-control over many things including the desire to be in control! There is also a healthy type of control for otherwise chaos reigns. Yet if you take control to its unhealthy extent you head into areas of domination and manipulation which indicate personal insecurity. Those who love power love to use it and to flaunt it as these armour-plated limousines and this fierce Presidential bodyguard demonstrate.
- ‘I like to control everything, and you cannot control everything. You have to at some point say, 'I let go and I'm going to let the cards fall where they fall. For a control freak, it's hard’ – Naomi Campbell
- ‘I'm selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I'm out of control, and at times hard to handle’ – Marilyn Monroe
- ‘Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of’ – Angelina Jolie
- ‘If you are an approval addict, your behaviour is as easy to control as that of any other junkie. All a manipulator need do is a simple two-step process: Give you what you crave, and then threaten to take it away. Every drug dealer in the world plays this game’ – Harriet B Braiker
- ‘Until you realize how easy it is for your mind to be manipulated, you remain the puppet of someone else's game’ – Evita Ochel
If you put a bunch of control freaks in a room together to play the game Monopoly, you can imagine the outcome! Take some despots like Hitler, Stalin, Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Mugabe and a few others of that ilk in such confinement! There would quickly be assessment of sizes of armies, their arsenals and soon there would be war. For most people, there is something inherent that wants control of others, of money, of situations, of our lives whereas for others they find it an easier preferred option to be controlled (so-called ‘sub-doms’). Think about yourself – do you feel a need for control or to be controlled in some way? What about those others in your life? Do you recognise any as ‘controllers’ or ‘sub-doms’ in varying measures?
- ‘You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them’ – Maya Angelou
- ‘I cannot always control what goes on outside. But I can always control what goes on inside’ – Wayne Dyer
- ‘Look at our society. Everyone wants to be thin, but nobody wants to diet. Everyone wants to live long, but few will exercise. Everybody wants money, yet seldom will anyone budget or control their spending’ – John C Maxwell
- ‘I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself’ – Robert E Lee
When a person finds they cannot control core parts of their life, they may yield more easily to the pull of addictions for ‘comfort’. In extremes, a person can punish their body for a sense of control through lack of eating, OCD behaviour or even by self-harming. Someone can look like they are in control of themselves when presenting their public face but inwardly can be spiralling out of control. There may be tell-tale clues – an unwillingness to let people get close, not wanting to have people to their home, nervousness around money, indecisiveness or an avoidance of having to give an opinion on something.
The key to all this for those with ‘controller’ or ‘sub-dom’ personality traits is to get God’s perspective on personhood. God entrusts control to Adam for different spheres – for himself, for his relationships, for ecology and his local environment. Sadly, it doesn’t go well in any of those areas and we’ve borne the consequences ever since. Adam and Eve were made in the image of God with tremendous capabilities, privileges and responsibilities. How could fulfilled personhood be rediscovered and how can things be put right?
- POSITION – ‘In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song’ – Stuart Townend
- STATUS – ‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death’ – Romans 8:1-2
- CHOSEN – ‘For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves’ – Ephesians 1:4-6
- ACCESS – ‘Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’ – John 1:12
- LIFESTYLE – ‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you’ – Colossians 3:12-13
- PERSPECTIVE – ‘Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ – Colossians 3:1-4
When you truly know that you are a child of God, accepted unconditionally and deeply loved, then you are secure and have nothing to prove. Jesus Christ washed his disciples’ feet and expects us not to lord it over others but to love them as he has loved us. Knowing that ‘salvation, glory and power belong to God’ means that we are safe in his care, under his authority and we can flourish for his glory. God gives us his Holy Spirit to help us with self-control, to bring personal maturity through inner change and to thrive again in God-given responsibility to bless relationships, families, friends and communities. The world does not advocate this approach but it is the way of life that no longer needs to control or be manipulated by the power-brokers that manifest themselves around us in various guises.
TAGS – dominance, assurance, confidence, self-worth, identity, servant, serving