I hate cruise control.
Really. I hate it. I absolutely loathe it. I appreciate the theory–cruise down the highway at a nice steady speed without having to fear flashing red lights in your rear-view mirror. It makes perfect sense, but if I’m behind the wheel I want my foot on the gas pedal right where it’s supposed to be. When the cruise is on, I can’t shake the feeling that the car is driving itself. It makes me feel like I’m not in control–and I hate that feeling.
Confession: I’m a bit of a control freak. I come by it naturally. On the DISC performance inventory, I’m almost equal on C and D personality traits. That would be “conscientious” and “dominance.” It’s what one DISC specialist cheerfully called “the heart attack profile.” I’m the person with a million ideas who knows how to get them all done perfectly. If you’ve got a project that needs creative solutions with quality results, I’m your girl.
The problem is that my inner drive to see things done right can devolve into micromanaging and nitpicking other people’s work. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Being controlling? Not so much. Having high standards and desiring to see things done well are great qualities, but when we let those desires push us to controlling other people, they tend to push back.
If I’m going to be totally honest, that inner need for control doesn’t always come from a desire to see things done well. Sometimes it stems from darker places. Pride. Fear. A lack of trust in God’s sovereignty. And one huge problem is that if I’m trying to control others, I’m restricting their freedom and power to hear God’s voice and act on it for themselves. If you want people to succeed, you’ve also got to give them the freedom to fail. That can get scary.
So what do you do when your inner control freak rears its head? The thing that helps me most is remembering who’s really in charge. God is sovereign. I’m not.
Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)
No matter what happens in my life, God’s love for me will not be shaken. God laid the foundations of the earth and stretched out the heavens with a word. My efforts to control my life are like throwing my arms around a dust pile and trying to keep the wind from blowing it away. I can’t do it. Trying to take control of my world and the people around me to keep bad things from happening is only setting me up for stress and failure. Striving for excellence is great, but it’s no magic talisman against the problems of the world. Accidents happen. Equipment breaks. People forget things, have other priorities or make mistakes. Sometimes I make mistakes. (More often than I’d like to admit). All my efforts can’t stop the world from shaking. But when the ground trembles, God’s love for me still stands firm.
Silencing your inner control freak starts by increasing your confidence in God’s love. God is good. He loves us, and he is in control. We can trust him enough to let go.
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