Do you feel like giving up? Are you losing control? Are you getting weary of it all? Who isn’t? There is so much that is out of our control. We can’t control the pandemic. We can’t control who gets the vaccine. We can’t control the weather. We can’t control how many people come to church or donate. We can’t control the mistakes people make, the dumb decisions they make, or the things they say. We may preach and teach. We may cajole and encourage. But we can’t control other people. All of this together can be wearying and frustrating. We may put up with it, try to shrug it off but sometimes we want to scream and sometimes we actually do. We scream because we feel like we have lost control.
Yes, there is so much that is outside of our control. We may feel like things are just slipping out of our grasp and that things are declining. Then try as we might, things are not turning around or getting better. But we may feel responsible or we may even take the blame.
So what do we do? Try harder? Not likely. In our discouraged state there is not much more that we can give. So what options do we have?
First, give up trying to control what you can’t control. Admit that you are limited. There are only so many things that your position, your expertise or your involvement can change or fix. Then even the influence over those things are given by God. In fact, God is the only one who can control anything.
Secondly, through prayer, consciously give back to God what you have been trying to take from Him…control over things. Only one person is wise enough, powerful enough, loving enough to manage everything. You would do well to actually talk to Him and name what you’ve been trying to manipulate and control, ask forgiveness and then give it back to Him. It sometimes actually helps to mimic with your hands what it is like to hand something to someone or push something away. Go ahead, use those hand motions as you pray.
Thirdly, ask for the wisdom to lean into those things over which you do have control. That means that through your own reflection, devotional quiet time and/or through consulting with others, you first identify your circle of influence and control. Consider your strengths, your expertise, your position and role. Then define what it is that you can positively influence and then embrace those with joy. As author Dr. Henry Cloud has said, “You are ridiculously in charge.”
Remember, the most important thing you should control is yourself. Strengthen your resolve to be intentional about your habits, your disciplines and doing everything to the best of your ability. Instead of getting all upset over others and what you can’t control, do all you can with what you can control. Work hard and work smart. Take pride in doing what you do well as an act of worship to God who has given you those gifts and abilities.
Fourth, continually seek for ways to improve. Look for the input and feedback of others. Be hungry to learn something new and how you can get better. If people try to place blame or responsibility on you that might seem unfair, stop and ask about it. Get curious. You may have something to learn and that you are more in control than you thought.
Fifth, be conscious of how you interact with others and give them control! Watch your words and actions. Speaking disrespectfully with people or ignoring people is veiled manipulation. It indicates you are still trying to control what you cannot control. Go back to point number two. Instead, seek to encourage others to live into their God given gifts and strengths. Celebrate their accomplishments and growth. As a child of God you have the love of God in Christ. Your identity is secure, you don’t need the accolades to feed your pride. Instead you can lift others with your voice.
Scott specializes in leadership coaching, consulting, coach and leadership training. He is called by Lutheran Counseling Services and partners with the FL-GA District of the Lutheran Church and others as an independent contractor. Listen to The Coaching Leader podcast and contact Scott to continue the conversation or experience a free sample coaching session. firstname.lastname@example.org or scottgress.com. Check out his YouTube channel and new online Church Leadership Training at scottgress.teachable.com
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