Monday, April 26, 2010

Control Freak

I have been listening to and reading a lot of Tim Keller's stuff recently. I like that guy and I like that he used to be on InterVarsity Staff. Boo-yah!

When you read enough of someone or listen to them enough, you start to get a fuller picture of what is going on in their heads and hearts. You start to notice repeated themes and phrases. I have found this to be true with a lot of people like N.T. Wright, Rob Bell, and Pastor Keller.

One of the main things that Keller talks about is idols: Good things that become false gods in our lives. Money is not a bad thing. But when it becomes the most important thing in your life, we have a problem. The same can be said for things like relationships and success and patriotism. None of those are bad things but they can easily take the place of God in our lives.

But even these things are just a symptom of a greater idol.

And I think that for many of us, myself included, that idol is control.

(I will at this point stop talking about "we" and start referring to myself.)

I want to be in control of my life. I literally had that revelation tonight. I have never thought of myself as a person who wants to have control of my life but tonight that became uncomfortably clear to me.

You see, some people like to make schedules. Some people are very disciplined. That is their way of controlling their life. I don't like schedules. I don't like making "to do" lists. I don't like being disciplined. If you are familiar with Myers-Briggs personality stuff, I am the poster-boy for "P."

P's like flexibility and adapting to situations as they come. I don't like to schedule stuff because something more important or enjoyable might come up instead.

To cut to the point, when I DON'T schedule something or commit to something, I maintain control.

When I make a commitment to something, I chose to relinquish control to the commitment. If I decided to run a marathon, I would relinquish control to the training program.

And if I became more disciplined in my prayer life and time meditating on Scripture, I would be relinquishing control to God.

That might be the scariest one of all.

if I choose to obey God, I lose control. I no longer live life on my terms. And dammit, I want to live life on my terms! My terms say that in each moment, I should be able to do what I want. Sometimes what I want and what I am committed to line up and that is great. But what about when they don't? What about when God is leading me into something that is potentially unpleasant or uncomfortable?

I think I am a control freak! But a reverse control freak. I refuse to let anything else get in the way of what I want to do. I just never quite know what I want to do far enough in advance to schedule it.

So for me, the way to fight it is discipline. It is schedule. It is a list. It is reminding myself that my life is not about me. It is about God and where He is going and what He is doing.

My life is not my own. I was bought with a price.

So I just want to give a little apology to all my organized and scheduled friends who I thought had issues with control. Who knew I had such a big plank in my eye?

Can those things become idols for me? Sure. But I am going to go ahead and say that we are a long way from that being a problem.

Oh Lord have mercy! But this feels like a good discovery. Let's see where it takes me.


  1. I'm right there with you, Ben. Although for me it's probably the opposite - once I have plans, I never want to change them. Best example: where I'm living next year.

    It's one of the things that scares me most. I can do little things, like going to JTR or multcultural worship. But I haven't done so well on the large, long-term commitments.

    So overall: I am right there with you, brother. God does indeed have mercy.


  2. This discovery feels like an answer to prayers prayed on April 6. I honestly wouldn't have predicted this answer, but how sweet that it came about from listening and being open to good stuff versus a time log.

    Thank you for sharing.