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The Need to Control

The issue of control is central to our sanctification and glorious freedom. He will grow you out of this, He will deliver you with a powerful hand, if you meet Him in the Holy of Holies and lay this word, and your heart, at His feet every single day.

The Gift of Control

In the beginning, God apportioned a degree of control to Adam and Eve (Ps 8:6-8). He gave them Eden and the entire planet of that time to administrate. It is given, therefore, that within each human percolates a healthy desire for some degree of control. We may not be managing halcyon gardens or baby pterodactyls, but within God's superintendence there is a sphere apportioned to us that we are to manage (2Co 10:13,15). Or, to use this article's verbiage, that we are to have some control over. Thus, because we are made in God's image (who controls all reality, generally speaking), and because we are Adam's offspring with Adam's purpose (to control or manage the earth), the human impulse to control keeps pulsating.

Control Issues Begin

But the halcyon Garden is where things went sour. God ordained Adam as the operational leader of the Garden project, and Eve a helper comparable (Gen 2:15-18). It is important to notice, though, the command to rule the earth was given to both of them equally, with no clearly established leader (1:26-28). That is another subject altogether. However, within the Garden, there was a clear operational structure.
    Part of Adam's operational responsibility was naming (2:19,20, 3:20). He was to determine the verbal structures and narratives in the Garden. This cues us to why Satan came to Eve, not Adam, for a conversation about the meaning of the death tree. In the first act ever of male passivity, Adam abdicated his lawful control of the environmental narrative. Eve asserted herself into the vacated space, hijacked control of the narrative, and committed the first bona fide sin.
    Do not hurry past the precursors that primed the first sin: Adam abdicated his God-given control of the verbal structures in the Garden, and Eve commandeered that control. It is revelatory that Scripture, theologically, charges the first sin to Adam, not Eve. It acknowledges Eve as the first sinner practically (1Ti 2:14), but Adam as the first sinner theologically (Ro 5:19). Paul is saying, when all the variables of that catastrophe are measured, Adam owns the preeminent responsibility.


And so began humanity's control issues.

Control Issues Deepen & Widen

From The Fall to the present, humanity's control issues have only deepened and widened. Instead of channeling that God-given instinct into controlling (i.e., administrating) a sphere of kingdom responsibility, people act controlling to remedy internal or external brokenness. They almost always become controlling when…

...they feel out of control inside (emotionally).
...they feel their lives, or some aspect of it, is out of control.
...they’ve suffered a “power wound”; a negative and felt loss of personal power, choice, dignity, freedom, etc.
...they need to counterattack against a power imbalance in a relationship or social situation.
...their self-concept is low or negative.
...their childhood exemplars (parents, guardians, significant influences) were controlling towards them.


    All kinds of people, at all ages and stations in life, even born-again Christians and kingdom leaders, can be negatively controlling for any number of internal or external reasons. Most of us recognize and resist overt control. The greater problem is subtle, passive-aggressive, creative forms of control that have degrees of ambiguity and plausible deniability by the controller.

Subtle, Passive-Aggressive, Creative Control

It is a grievous misconception to see only the uncivilized alpha male as controlling, or the jealous wife who nitpicks her husband's every move. It takes eagle eyes of discernment to see rodents of control scurrying beneath the foliage of subtlety and creativity. Reflect on the following examples.

    Christians who know the Bible well, or are noticeably gifted, or are in positions of leadership, misappropriating scriptures and spiritual themes to control others.
    Christians who make legalistic rules beyond what is written in Scripture, or hyperextend specific scriptures to make these rules and control others.
    Christians who use prophecies and "God told me" to control others. Every cult that originated in Christianity began this way. Grow a prayer life and test all things (1Th 5:21), especially spiritual activity and phenomena. Grow a brain and think for yourself (1Co 7:23).
    Perpetual victims. Suffering people who use problems, injustices, and endless drama to hog attention, but do not make meaningful choices towards freedom. If you indulge or accommodate perpetual victims, guess what?
    People who use anger strategically. By making others fear a blow-up and walk on eggshells, they control (suppress) the authentic behavior of those around them.
    People who are excessively nice. The superfluous pleasantry is a way of controlling others into liking and accepting them. View it as a delightful form of control. I mean, really? You never have one controversial thought or emotion or comment...ever?
    People who talk too much. One-sided conversationalists, conversational narcissism, verbal hogs, pushy talkers, etc. try to gain control over others or a social situation.
    Dirty money. Money people give or loan you with passive-aggressive expectations.
    Fraudulent flirting. When one person, male or female, titillates another without the intention of following through, but only to control or "hook" them.
    Mafia families. Families that use familiarity, fear, belittling, ostracism, or authoritarian expectations to keep wounded members from opening up to outside helpers, and worse, from getting the complete healing and new life skills they need. Sadly, all the families I know that have used (or still use) this kind of mafioso behavior are Christians or regular churchgoers. Family narratives and myths are spiritualized; specific scriptures are used as control agents.


Psalm 64:6 (NIV): ...Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.

Philippians 1:9,10 (NIV): And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best.

Back to Genesis, The Gift of Control

Gees. How we have added many dysfunctional applications to the original gift of control God gave humanity--a gift to direct, administrate, and steward a piece of reality. Not a gift to control others. Not a gift to manage someone else's life. Not a gift to control every last detail of our own lives. Not a gift to control our sanctification or destiny process.
    The original gift of control finds its home in the sphere of responsibility assigned to us in our life calling (2Co 10:13,15). Until you find and steadily fulfill that calling, the itch to control something or someone will keep itching. Get serious about discovering your vocational purpose! Consecrate a period of fasting specifically for this. Talk to an equipped friend or leader. Read good books about it. I have written a manual entitled Discover Your Calling (with a coaching option). It can be purchased here at the Books page. Feel free to email me if you need.
    If you already know the general direction of your calling, it is time to fully own it and set your face like flint to develop it. Enough being insecure or falsely humble. Enough whining about not having enough money. Just do the next possible step immediately before you and those steps will keep appearing and ascending (if you seek God and spiritually grow concurrently). Ignore the next step and you will stay right where you are: controlling and being controlled.

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