Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Illusion of Control

By nature I am a control freak. I like things to be in order. It’s difficult for me when I have mess on my desk, in my office, in my car or in our home. When a chair in a row is out of place, my eyes notice it. When one wire is not taped down at South Bay, it drives me crazy. My OCD is not noble and my words are merely a confession.

To be honest, I’m learning how little I actually do control. When I try to control situations I end up frustrating myself and those around me. I end up with headaches, anxiety, stress and serious stomach problems. I can’t control people and I can’t control outcomes. I can't control how many people come to church, I can't control how many people decide to follow Christ, I can't control my kids or my wife. God knows I can't control my kids. :-)

I’m finding that there is a better solution, which leads to a life of joy and fruitfulness. Step one, release control to The One who is ultimately in control. Let him dictate outcomes and do His job. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Let Him work on people’s hearts, let Him change peoples minds, let Him determine increase and blessing. Let Him lead and guide decisions. Let Him be God. Now, you can't stop here. There is a second part to this principle.

After releasing control, I must accept responsibility. I am not in control, but I am responsible.

I’m responsible for how I lead, how I pray, how I interact with people, how I love my family, how often I share the message of God’s love, how I discipline and train my kids and how I serve others. I am responsible for communicating truth, creating pathways for people to respond, and removing mental and physical barriers that stand in the way of people obeying Christ. When I choose responsibility over control I am still able to influence outcomes, but without all the anxiety and stress that comes with control.

I cannot control how many people will decide to follow Christ through South Bay this year, but I can influence many lives by accepting responsibility to communicate the gospel clearly and boldly. I cannot control how my spouse or kids will respond when I interact with them, but I can influence their responses by accepting responsibility to love sacrificially. You cannot control if and when you get the promotion at work, but you can find favor with your boss by accepting responsibility to work diligently. You cannot control the rate of growth in your business, but you can influence profit by accepting responsibility to lead wisely. You cannot control how fast you will lose weight and be healthy, but you can influence the scale by eating well and exercising. You cannot control your portfolio, but you can influence your economic state by trusting God with the tithe, living below your means and investing wisely. Release control, accept responsibility, influence outcomes.

Control is an illusion. Responsibility is real and outcomes really can be influenced (in a healthy life giving way). Choose today to release control and accept responsibility. Watch God use you and change your life, then give Him the credit for all He does.