Attempting to control the lives of other people is to live the life of a fool. Only God is in control. Humans who ignore this truth are in deep trouble. Dictators may look like they have control, but then it is lost in a heartbeat. Others try to control by kindness or deference, these leaders too, can be overcome with swiftness.
Simply put, control doesn’t work. Controlling people is not an effective form of leadership. Sadly, too many fathers believe that being in authority means being in control. Nothing could be farther from the truth. As in all things, Jesus Christ is the perfect example.
Jesus was totally aware and reliant upon his Father’s control. In the desert, Satan tried to tempt Christ into using his authority to take control of his own life and others. Jesus would have none of it! He submitted himself to the word and power of his Father.
Christ exercised his authority on earth by being a servant. Dads, if you want to follow Christ’s example, you will become a servant to those entrusted to your care. This is not a being a menial servant, but a servant to their souls. By following Christ’s example, Dads have the opportunity to invest themselves in those they love, for their good and God’s honor. This means really knowing your wife and kids. Your job is not to control them but to love them, listen to them and bring Christ to them. In short, to serve them. Is your family convinced that your priority is to be a blessing to them or are they looking at you as someone who wants to be in control and in charge?
Jesus directly address this difference between being in control and being a servant. James and John were attempting to use their intimate friendship with Jesus to gain a place of authority and control. The other disciples find out about the Zebedee boys’ plans and are not happy. So Christ calls the disciples all together and explains to them that they are not to use their authority in the way that the world does. Jesus tells them if they want to lead they must first become servants. Being in control is the antithesis of being a servant.
Read what he says:
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
3 thoughts on “Dads – to control or to serve, you can’t do both.”
This topic is so heartbreaking. This man that you describe probably means well and thinks he is doing the right thing. He wonders why his wife resents him, his children avoid him and why he has constant struggles at work. Yet if his family tries to tell him how he is poisoning his relationships with his constant control and judgement, it falls on deaf ears. How I wish older men would could come alongside younger men and guide them in this area before the younger man becomes an older man with a broken marriage and children who want nothing more than to be free of him.
As a mother of a17 year old girl I see the need to let go but I also have a strong desire to protect. When they’re little you do control what they do, how do you practically let go? How do you serve without just letting them do things you know aren’t good for them? These articles sound good but they’re all theory. What exactly can you do practically to serve/lead without controlling? Love is a pretty broad term. My daughter wants to just sit on the internet all day. So if I’m not controlling does that mean I just let her do that even though that’s obviously not good for her? Getting her to do anything else means making her do it unless it’s going to an inappropriate movie with friends or shopping. Practical suggestions please. I get tired of more guilt and condemnation bring dumped on me as a single mother with a hostile porn addicted church leader ex husband trying to raise a godly little girl. How can I serve her and love her without having to control what she does when she often wants to do things that aren’t good for her. I listen to her and take care of her but at this age they know everything so it’s often hard to have a discussion. This whole issue just makes me feel frustrated. I don’t want to control, I want to let go. How do you find a balance?
Sue, thanks for your comment. I have two suggestions for you. Paul Tripp’s book, Age of Opportunity, is a great book for parents of teenagers. You can also check out the the Shepherd Press Blog for posts on teenagers. just search the category search box for Teenagers. Both of these resources should provide some help.