In going along with the theme of PATIENCE this month, control comes to mind. My friend, Shannon, has allowed me to borrow some words from her book, Control Girl, that speak directly to this topic. This excerpt was taken from the chapter about Sarah, her impatience to bear Abraham a child and the consequences taking matters into her own hands ensued.*
These powerful words are convicting my heart as I re-read them to be more patient with my children’s faith and also to do a little more of letting go and letting God. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments! More on Control Girl below.
I have a grave concern for Control Girls. I think controlling women produce some of the godliest looking families in the church. In our cunning way, we can twist Scripture into a whip on our kid’s backs. We can make our husbands squirm under our condemning glare. We can prod and punish and prompt until our family members cave in to the pressure and eke out the polished Christian personae we had in mind.
And what is our goal? We want our loved ones to inherit the future that God promises his children. We want them to have heaven. The threat of family members not joining God’s family ignites our inner Control Girl!
But here’s my concern: What if we’re producing slaves, not sons?
Jesus said, “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever” (John 8:35). Ishmael certainly proved those words true. He was cast out with no inheritance.
Quite frankly, a Control Girl mom can produce a pretty convincing imitation Christian , and this she can do without God. But a true child of God- one who gets the inheritance- can’t be produced by a controlling mom. His birth into God’s family us like the birth of Isaac. It involve a miracle, performed by God and no one else.
This is so difficult for me. What if I have a mouthy, lazy teenager? A sneaky preschooler? What if my husband watches sports all weekend? Or my child lies? As a Control Girl, I have a whole litany of tactics to unleash on these ungodly habits in my home. But when I succeed in obliterating the unruliness I see in my family, have I produced something genuine and true? Or have I simply succeeded in gaining control?
According to Barna Group’s research, nearly six in ten Millennials who grew up in church are walking away from their faith. Somehow, these young adults seem to have the impression that there’s more freedom outside the church. But how can that be, since the Bible says, “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Gal. 5:1)? Could we, their controlling moms, be part of the reason the church seems like a house of slavery to them? Could we be creating a dynamic that propels them away from God’s family rather than drawing them in? And in doing so, have we threatened their eternal inheritance?
Oh, what a sobering thought.
Friends, we are absolutely called to influence our loved ones. And they are accountable to for the way they choose to live their life. But brow-beating our child into meeting our expectations does not produce a true child of God. A woman’s glaring eye and coercing tactics can only produce slave-like obedience, not obedience that springs from a willing heart. We must be so careful not to- as Sarah did- unwittingly invite the threat of slavery into our homes.
Here’s what this means for me: Rather than lecturing my kids incessantly, I must quietly insist they obey, then hit my knees and pray for God to work in their hearts. Instead of nagging my husband, I must voice my concern, then repeatedly entrust our future to God. Rather than controlling my loved one by pressuring them into external changes, I must exhort them with truth, then entreat God to work in their hearts.
Sarah couldn’t produce a son of Abraham on her own, and I can’t produce a son or daughter of God on my own- only God can. Only true sons receive the promised inheritance.
- What have you, in your own strength, produced that only mimics godliness in others? How might this threaten their true faith?
- List several practical ways you can stop trying to control what only God can do in others’ hearts.
- Read Galatians 5:1. How can you represent God well in your home based on this verse? Pray, right now, that God would work in the hearts of each of your family members.
These words are just a snippet of the impactful book, Control Girl. I wish you all had the opportunity to sit down with my friend and author, Shannon. She is one of a kind and so open to pouring into others. She has taught me a lot about this journey of writing and speaking for the Lord and has inspired me greatly with her books, Influence, Control Girl and Comparison and I highly recommend getting yourself (friends and family!) copies of each!
She lives in Grand Rapids, MI and is a wife, mom, a speaker and teacher, and a leader of small-group studies. She invites us all to live like God’s Word is true. You can learn more about Shannon, sign up for her free resources, newsletter and blog here: www.shannonpopkin.com. Also follow Shannon on IG where she inspires me daily with her posts!
Here are some posts I’ve done in the past about Shannon’s books:
- Book Review and Favorite Quotes! | Sarah Heringer
- A Few Of My Favorite Things: Christmas Gifts On Purpose For Grown-Ups & Kids! | Sarah Heringer
*Excerpt taken from Control Girl page 73-75. Used with permission by Shannon Popkin.