The Idol of Control

Guest Author: Tiffany Mathew
Series: Idolatry Defined | The Idol of Power

RECAP: Idolatry is rampant in our hearts today whether we realize it or not. At the end of the day, idolatry is at the root of all our sin. The Bible defines idolatry as putting something that is created in a higher place of worth than the only One who is not created: God. When analyzing our sin, we come to the conclusion that there are four root idols:

Power, Control, Comfort, and Approval.

As soon as I heard that the Idol of Control was one of the four root idols, I knew I would be convicted. Control has been something I’ve struggled with since childhood – from getting stressed when I was late to appointments to not being able to adapt when things started to fall apart.

DEFINITION: I am only happy when things occur according to my plans and desires.

Have you ever failed a test and plummeted into depression because it threatens to unravel your academic aspirations? Have you ever become angry or fearful when things don’t go as planned? As a parent, have you been consumed by fear when something threatens the future of your children? As a wife, do you struggle letting your husband lead? As a believer, is there tension because you refuse to submit to the authority of your parents or church leaders? I would say “yes” to most of these questions because I have an Idol of Control.

Many times this idol disguises itself as just being organized or on top of things, but if lack of organization and consistency disrupts your God-given joy or makes you question God’s Sovereignty, then you struggle with a Control Idol.

Working in college ministry the past couple years has allowed me to see how present the Idol of Control is on our campuses. I have seen student after student break down because they have failed a class, or didn’t get into med school, or had to change their major. Most of these breakdowns stem from the idea that they had a goal, a plan, an ideal timeline, and now that timeline is ruined due to a setback.

It is hard to trust in God during those times of failure, but one thing I have learned from my own experiences and from the stories of so many others is that God is in control – even when our plans are crumbling in front of us.

As humans, we try so desperately to control our lives, when in reality the only thing we are in control of is…

n o t h i n g .

We’re not even in control of our own emotions – so why drain ourselves trying to gain control of things that only God has control over?

I am at the age where every mother, friend, and strange auntie asks,

“When are you getting married?”

It is easy in the South Asian culture to stress about the future because we are raised to believe that we need to be in a specific stage of life at a specific age. The control freak in me spreads the lie that I am running out of time, that I need to do something to get the ball rolling, that I need to compromise in order to reach the goal in time, however that is not what God teaches. Matthew 6:31-33 reminds me that God knows exactly what I need and when I need it. The Bible also proves that God’s timing is perfect (Galatians 4:4, Ecclesiastes 3:11).

So as I repent of this Idol of Control, I pray every day that I would trust in God’s good and perfect plan – even when I don’t know what it is. I pray that even when things don’t go my way, my joy is rooted in my salvation and not my circumstances. I pray that when things start falling apart, I would take advantage of the opportunity to show God’s grace to others.

Repentance in your life might look a number of different ways, but here are a couple ways to know that you are healing from a Control Idol: 

You don’t spiral into fear when things get chaotic.

Your schedule is no longer your god, but God is in control of your plans, and you trust His timing in EVERY aspect of your life (academics, career, marriage, and family).

True healing from a Control Idol occurs when you can confidently live out Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths,

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