The elder brother of the prodigal had them too–and didn’t know it. If you are a controlling person, you probably don’t see it–but everyone near you does. They feel it when you try to control the time, the conversation, the meeting, the phone call.
“The fruit of the Spirit is…self-control.” The more self-control you possess, the less you need to be controlling. The more out of control you feel, the more you may try to control whatever you can. If you struggle with needing to control other people,
1) You feel entitled to your opinion, but you don’t want theirs. You trust your outlook.
2) You assert yourself with anger, one of the major methods of controlling. And you are mad when people don’t follow your advice or expectations. The elder brother was like the Pharisees, who were out of control but presented themselves as in control. Controlling others masks insecurity. Think Martha, who tried controlling her sister.
3) You don’t plan on changing, but others need to. Unfortunately, you are clueless to your control. You just have better ideas and more wisdom, and you want to mentor others and show them how it is done. The Pharisees thought they had things to teach people. In fact, they had nothing right, nor did the elder brother.
4) You have many relational conflicts, which should be a clue to your problem, but you tend not to see your issues while you point out the flaws of others. The elder brother had a conflict with his brother and with his father. He didn’t know how to do relationships. The prodigal and the father did. The emphasis of controlling people is more on functions than on relationships. The prodigal was mending a relationship. The elder brother had no idea relationships needed mending. He didn’t know his father as a father; he was his boss. Entitlement reduces a relationship with God from father to boss. And their picture of Him is skewed by their wounding, perhaps a demanding mother or father. The elder brother had a good father but but he didn’t know it. He tried telling his father how to run the family, how to control his over-the-top younger brother
If you have read this far and think you might have some control issues, you probably do, and they are most likely bigger than you think. Here are some helps to walking in freedom from the need to be the CEO of the universe:
- Focus on yourself. Notice Paul calls it “self-control.” You are not required to control others, and you are not as good at it as you may imagine. Every one of your problems has a common issue–you. Quit thinking the world is out to get you. It just wants you to quit trying to manage their life. That is demoralizing and degrading, especially since your life is out of control. Think about it: the more we walk with self-control, the less need we feel to control others.
- Consider God. He is the most powerful person of the universe–and the least controlling. The father of the prodigal is a picture of God. The son made an illegitimate request–and the father honored it. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe he could see that the son had already left and needed to learn what the world was really like. He did–and he came home to experience non-controlling compassion. So will you.