Control. It can be a good thing, as when we keep our temper under control, or have control of our vehicle. It can be bad, as when an individual or organization tries to control another, at which time it is often given the name 'manipulation.' Clint Eastwood famously put the two together when he spoke in favor of gun control: "If there's a gun around, I want to be in control of it." I used to have more control over things than I do now. There was a time when I pretty well set the agenda for the church, controlling the flow of information, giving direction and vision for the future. It sounds manipulative, but I was pretty laid back about it and worked hard to spread the decision making around while providing the guidance for the overall direction of the church.
Leadership by definition requires a certain amount of control, and even the most collaborative of us get accused of manipulation by those who disagree with the course being set. It's part of the territory.
After 34 years as pastor of Park church, I turned over leadership with its measure of control to pastor Joe. It's been a wonderful transition; I felt the weight of responsibility lift almost immediately upon retirement. I didn't anticipate how quickly and completely I would step out of the inner loop of information, and how little control over church life I would have. It's been a good lesson in humility. And reality.
I've come to believe that most of the control we think we have is ephemeral at best, and a complete fantasy at worst. I don't control the direction of Park church anymore; I accept that. What I've learned is how little control I have over other areas of my life. I only have control over my own decisions. But I have almost no control over the things that matter most to me--the lives and fortunes of those I know and love the best. This lack of control drives me to my knees, and that's a good thing. I'm praying more. And thankful that there is One who is in control, and that he loves us.