The Seven Fears Controlling Controllers

At the root of most sinful controlling is lack of submission to God’s perfect control.

The sovereignty of God has to be the foundation of any lasting deliverance from these fears. I can release control if God is in control. God’s sovereignty means that even if things do go wrong, they are not out of control but under God’s control, and He will work it together for our good.

 

Although controlling/authoritarian/obsessive people often seem intimidatingly strong and confident, at heart they are insecure people who are controlled by a number of fears.

Fear of things going wrong: Hyper-conscious of all that could go wrong in life, they are trying to protect themselves against every possible risk.

Fear of being found out: They put a protective skin around themselves, often shunning relational intimacy, because they are afraid that if people see more of them, they will see their inadequacy.

Fear of trusting: Trust entails risk and vulnerability. It means depending on other people and therefore the possibility of being let down, betrayed, exploited, etc.

Fear of needing someone else: The closer they get to someone, the more they come to need him or her, which unnerves them.

Fear of being exploited: Results in a tendency to be excessively guarded about giving, lending, or spending money.

Fear of uncertainty: The norm is excessively detailed long-term planning and a phobia toward changes.

Fear of not knowing: They tend to be obsessed about knowing every little detail about everything because the more they know the more they feel in control.

Alan Mallinger offers a few remedies for some of these fears in Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of ControlThey include:

  • Remind yourself that no one and nothing can be one-hundred-percent dependable.
  • Stop thinking in extremes. For example, just because it would be unwise to share every intimate detail of your life, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share any. There is a middle ground
  • Practice letting down your guard in one or two small ways to gain confidence and begin to build the habit of releasing control.

However, these are fairly basic and limited remedies. At the root of most sinful controlling is lack of submission to God’s perfect control. The sovereignty of God has to be the foundation of any lasting deliverance from these fears. I can release control if God is in control.

God’s sovereignty means that even if things do go wrong, they are not out of control but under God’s control, and He will work it together for our good.

God’s sovereignty means that even if people find out I’m not what my public persona portrays, He can still provide me with friends and loved ones who care for the real me. Indeed, God’s sovereignty means I can stop pretending and start trusting Him with the real me.

God’s sovereignty means that He will never let us down, and even if others do, he can still overrule even the greatest betrayal for good.

God’s sovereignty means that we can depend upon him for the big things, and through that learn to depend upon others for smaller things.

God’s sovereignty means that even if we are exploited and conned, that he can make it up to us as the cattle on a thousand hills are his, as are the millions in Merril Lynch.

God’s sovereignty means that His plan is certain and that nothing is uncertain to God. We don’t need to make detailed long-term plans because God has made an every-hair-on-my-head plan that covers time and eternity.

God’s sovereignty means we don’t need to know everything, because He already does.

God’s sovereignty means we can abandon perfectionism and embrace His perfection.

God’s sovereignty means we can repent of authoritarianism and trust His authority.

God’s sovereignty means we can release control into God’s control.

Previous posts on Perfectionism and Control: Part 1Part 2Part 3,Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7.

David Murray is Professor of Old Testament & Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. This article first appeared on his blog, Head Heart Hand, and is used with permission.