Thursday, December 22, 2016

Why People Try to Control Others


I meet a lot of control freaks and controlees. Many marriages are the coming together of these two anti-types. Every control freak needs a controlee, and vice versa. I call these "master/slave" marriages.

Most, if not all, struggle with control issues. The Control vs. Trust polarity is ontological reality; i.e., it lies at the base of human personhood. 

"Control" is the antithesis of "trust." Trust is huge in the Jesus-life, and life in general, since we control so very, very little.

Keith Miller writes: "control is the major factor in destroying intimate relationships." (Compelled to Control: Recovering Intimacy in Broken Relationships., p. 7) Why do we do this? Why try to control others when we can't control our own selves, and are often out of control? Miller writes:

"The fear of being revealed as a failure, as not being "enough" somehow, is a primary feeling that leads to the compulsion to control other people. When we were children, the fear of being inadequate and shameful was tied to our terror of being deserted or rejected and we had little control over getting what we needed. To counteract that basic terror, we have evidently been trying all our lives in various ways to "get control" of life. This includes controlling other people." (14)

A controlling person is an un-free person. Insecurity is the banner of control. I like the way Richard Foster once put this: God wants to free us from the terrible burden of always having to get our own way. "Walking in freedom" and "controlling other people" ("always getting our own way") are oppositional. 

The control freak crushes the spirit of the other person, who wears a sign saying, 'Crush me." "I'm in control of you"/"Control me" - "I'm in control of you"/"Control me" -  this is the cycle that destroys marriages and relationships. The antidote is, of course, trust. Because where trust is, control is not. 

Begin breaking free by learning trust in God. Pray to be less controlling than you now are; pray to be less controlled by others than you now are. Trust God even when you don't trust other people. 

Go basic, repeating and praying Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
    Run to God! Run from evil! (The Message)


To trust God when around distrustful people is an experiential act of freedom. God can use you to be the catalyst that heals others of their fear of not measuring up.