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Using Power Responsibly

DSC_3703_2Dear Comfort Cafe Friends,

In this Bible Study series we are continuing to look at what it means to love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. The lessons run monthly  and focus on “Looking Inward,” (relating to and loving God), and “Looking Outward,” (relating to and loving our neighbor). In this series, the entire lesson each month is presented here on the front page. We hope you will join us in applying knowledge of God’s character to deeper levels of life. Previous lessons from 2014 remain available under the Table of Contents and Archive page.

©2013 Kay Smith and Ruth Wood. All rights reserved. Used by permission. User Permission Notice: This study may not be sold or used for profit. However, copies may be made for personal use. Questions? Contact: ruthywood@gmail.com.

Looking Outward

emperorIsn’t it amazing that the Ruler of the Universe is willing to share His power with us? On earth we already have the Holy Spirit, but in heaven He will invest us with power to “reign with him” (II Timothy 2:12). What an honor! Even if the President of the United States asked us to become part of his cabinet, this honor and privilege would pale to nothing in comparison to reigning with Christ.

Voltaire said, “With power comes great responsibility.”  Power can be used for good or it can be abused. How well power is used depends on the character of the one in charge. A key component of using power well is understanding the difference between being “in control” and being “controlling.” Being in control means having the ability to control myself—I see myself as neither helpless nor entitled but as one who can choose to act in alignment with my values.  Being controlling means exerting pressure on others to do what I want.

Being Controlling — externally based Being In Control — internally based
Entitled

Demanding

Forces

Manipulates (i.e. thru anger or silence)

Criticizes to appear superior

Considerate

Respectful

Collaborates

Communicates

Encourages to build up

Even our Sovereign God, who has every right to be entitled and demanding, came as a humble servant, laid down his life, and allows us to choose Him or not. In Revelations 3:20 He says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they will me.”

God is in control of Himself—His purposes, His actions. He is so secure in Himself and confident of His good plans, that for a set time He has chosen to endure whatever terrible atrocities humans create by their free will.

Diving In

Missional Purpose of Holy Spirit Power

Acts 1:8 says, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses . . . even to the remotest part of the earth.” What is an important reason why you were given the Holy Spirit when you were saved?

Reigning with Christ

II Timothy 2:12a says, “if we endure, we will also reign with him.” What are lessons you’ve learned or ways you’ve developed that may be important preparation for ruling with Christ someday? (Think about what it means to lead or to govern.)

Check Yourself

Check any of the following qualities you may see in yourself that might indicate a need to control others. Remember, we are in a growth process, and this is an exercise in self-awareness, not self-condemnation:

  • Perfectionism
  • Impatience
  • The need to be right regardless of cost
  • Difficulty working under others or collaborating with others
  • If it’s not your idea, difficulty committing to a project
  • Intolerance for not getting your own way
  • Using anger, the silent treatment, or other moods to manipulate getting what you want
  • Changing how you present yourself to others in order to control how you appear to others (leading to compromising convictions)

James 4:1-2 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.” According to this passage, what can be a reason why we do not get what we want? How could this be changed?

Root Causes

The following quotes a website titled “What Can Cause Control Issues”?

Control is typically a reaction to the fear of losing control. People who struggle with the need to be in control often fear being at the mercy of others, and this fear may stem from traumatic events that left them feeling helpless and vulnerable. As a result, they many crave control in disproportionate and unhealthy ways. The experience of abuse or neglect, for example, can make people look for ways to regain control of their lives, and sometimes victims lash out at other people in their lives.

The need for control drives people to turn to the external world in order to find things they can control. They may be compelled to micromanage and orchestrate the actions and behaviors of others, or maintain rigid rules regarding routine, diet, or cleanliness and order. For instance, people who are physically or psychologically abusive inflict pain on loved ones in the form of ridicule, isolation, restrictions, or physical or sexual assault, because they themselves are in pain, though this pain is often deeply buried and unacknowledged.

Control issues may be related to:
• Traumatic or abusive life experiences
• A lack of trust
• Anxiety
• Fears of abandonment
• Low or damaged self-esteem
• A person’s beliefs, values, and faith
• Perfectionism and the fear of failure
• Emotional sensitivity and the fear of experiencing painful emotions

http://www.goodtherapy.org/therapy-for-control-issues.html#

Which of the above do you identify with?

Understanding Ourselves

Confront your sense of vulnerability. The need for control stems from a deep-seated motivation to cover up your vulnerabilities. Possibly somewhere in your life, you felt threatened by not meeting standards that someone set for you and you strove hard to meet those standards, possibly at great expense of personal relationships and development . . .
• What do you feel vulnerable about?
• What fears loom up when you think about delegating responsibilities?
• What worries face you when you think of doing a job to an average rather than complete standard?
• Does order matter a great deal to you?
• What expectations do you hold of other people around you? Are these realistic expectations?
• Are you a source of stress towards others? Do you thrive amid their stress?
• Are you always worried about failure?
• Are you happy with yourself underneath the perfect facade?
• Have you ever tried to communicate your weaknesses?

The section below Understanding Ourselves is quoted from http://www.wikihow.com/Find-out-What-Makes-a-Controlling-Person

Who is in Control?

Learning to surrender control to God is the first step in learning to be in control of ourselves. This surrender requires trust. Write down your obstacles to trusting God. What makes trusting Him difficult for you?

Learning to Trust

From the following verses, what are some reasons why you might want to trust God?

  • Romans 4:5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.
  • Isaiah 12:2a — Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense . . .
  • Psalm 9:10 — Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
  • Psalm 32:10 — Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.
  • Psalm 118:8 — It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.
  • Isaiah 26:3 — You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Being In Control

What are some controlling behaviors you hope to let go of? What will you do differently in order to move towards being in control of yourself rather than others?

With Others

Colossians 3:12-14 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Are there any controlling tendencies that prevent you from fulfilling any part of the verse above? You may wish to journal about this here, write out a prayer, or summarize this lesson.

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