4 Ways to Release the Tendency to be a Control Freak

I come from a long line of control freaks. My mother was a control freak with anger issues. My grandmother was a control freak with passive-aggressive tendencies. And my grandfather was nothing short of a force to be reckoned with!

They say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, and that has never been more evident than in my life.

At first, I thought I was simply a people pleaser with an overabundance of control freaks in my life. That might have been true at times. But like Clark Kent, when I was put in the right situation, I could easily transform—without the help of a phone booth—into a super control freak.

Over time, I came to the realize that the problem most control freaks wrestle with is not the need for control, but their lack of faith that God is still in control when things go wrong. If something appears bad on the surface to control freaks, then they reason that it must really be God who has fallen down on the job, or worse, that God isn’t really as good or powerful as He says He is. When a control freak goes down that rabbit hole, the only way they believe they can emerge is to tuck their “capes” neatly back into place for just such an occasion—the time when God would not come through for them and save the day!

Rude Awakening

Now, way back in my youth, if you were to tell me that you thought I was a control freak, I probably would’ve been highly insulted and started an argument with you in order to put you in your place! After all, that’s the only way good control freaks know how to deal with a problem—by controlling it, and you.

It took me years to finally wake up to the fact that I was and am a control freak—a super control-freak to boot.

I hated the sound of those words. I would justify to any of my accusers that I was just being conscientious, hard-working, meticulous—but never a control freak! Once I finally accepted the ugly truth of my situation, I grew afraid that more and more people would find out and then reject me and my control freaky ways.

At some point, I realized that I couldn’t “control” that either.

In other words, the jig was up and the truth was evident to all.

Thankfully, this “rude awakening” actually woke me up to so much more than my own controlling tendencies. After finally coming clean with God and several people in my life, I began to realize how my controlling ways had walled out those closest to me. I also realize that I had offended many more than I realized, as well as destroying an even greater number of God-given opportunities all along the way.

God’s Plans, Not Mine

So how did God break through my tough veneer and my dogged resolve to rely on myself?

1. I put myself into accountability relationships.

I gave and give certain trustworthy and godly people permission to speak truth into my life. I don’t always like what I hear—especially at first. But I’ve come to realize that God uses these people to chisel away the rough spots in my life—one of which was and still is my need desire for control.

2. I confess my sin of control, among other things, to my accountability partners.

The Bible gives a beautiful promise regarding confession,

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16 NIV).   

I didn’t realize it at first, but each time I confessed my sin of control, God used (and uses) it to break the vice-like grip that this mindset has on my life—healing me in profound ways.

3. I study the Bible to better understand the concept of “faith in God.”

As I began to study “faith” in God’s Word, the first thing I realized was how small my faith really was. Ironically, that wasn’t a bad realization because I also learned that Christ is better than any super hero at increasing my faith to God-sized proportions. And all of that is just a prayer away.

“. . . Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24b NIV)

4. I rest in God—waiting on His timing and ways.

These opportunities to rest actually come in the heat of temptation. To further the irony, I make every “effort” to lay down my elusion of controlresting my scary situation in the Lord’s more-than-capable hands. Of course, I also need to keep my sticky fingers off, no matter how unresolved my situation continues to be! But whenever I fail to do any of these things, I don’t beat myself up anymore. I simply confess my sin—turning back in the direction of my grace-giving God . . .

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1 NIV).

Oh, and I’m not just hanging up my “super-control-freak-cape” in a place where I can snatch it again as the need arises. No, siree! Instead, I’ve returned it to the costume store where it belongs because . . .

Saving the day is no big deal when you’ve got a Savior who can save your soul!


What about you? How are you a control freak?


What is one specific step you can take to quit your control-freaky ways?

About the author : Beth Steffaniak

Beth Steffaniak

Beth has been married to her husband Gary for 30 years. They are enjoying the early days of an empty-nest, while Beth has been filling up much of her time with writing, life-coaching and speaking at workshops.

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