Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.
Proverbs 16:32 NLT
Confession: I can be both impatient and flippant; my inability at times to control my tongue, and just speak what I’m thinking, has put me in some intense situations. My impatience causes me great discomfort and anxiety because I want what I want, but I don’t realize that even if it’s something that I need—it will only come when God says that it’s time—when I’m truly ready. Having to wait means having to trust and let go. It means admitting that you have absolutely no control and being okay with that. Welp, I have control issues. I’m always trying to grab the steering wheel knowing that I need to be saying, “Jesus take the wheel” and then letting go, and being a graceful passenger.
I am opinionated and can be bossy. I default to my tried and true statement from the past, “I was an only child for about 15 years…” which means that I never had to learn how to share, seek balance, negotiate, admit fault, or ask for forgiveness. Hence my dilemma from youth through adulthood.
Sadly, I know better. I know that you can get more with sugar than…fill-in-the-blank. I know that you can gain more through grace than force. I know that if you’re speaking you’re not fully listening, and if you’re yelling and cussing then you truly can’t hear and respond to God. If you dominate the conversation then you’re not letting God direct the flow.
Even if someone else is being stubborn or controlling, you need to practice self control so that you don’t add more sticks of dynamite to the fire.
The need to speak, control, and be right is a recipe for disaster. It’s a self-absorption that won’t allow for perfect clarity and resolution. If you can’t control yourself then you only prove how little control that you do have, and why you’re obsessed with trying to control everything and everyone around you—even if you don’t see it that way. It’s funny that people with control issues detest the practice of micromanaging, but are they not one in the same? Do you not have two people who seek to control people, things, circumstances, and outcomes? The one who does not like to delegate isn’t really that different than the micromanager. You both need to let go!!!
Here’s some quick tests to consider (and please be honest when answering these questions):
- When driving somewhere with someone, are you usually the one driving or navigating, or are you the silent passenger just enjoying the ride? Are you quick to volunteer to drive? Are you quick to point the way, believing that your understanding of the route directions are more accurate than anyone else in the vehicle? Or are you quick to use your gps system instead of someone else’s so that you can “ensure” on-time arrival to your destination?
- When someone makes a statement counter to your understanding or beliefs, are you quick to correct them, and then argue with them with the attempt to get them to concede and agree with you?
- Are you quick to take on a task because you think you can do it better than someone else?
- Do you find it difficult to delegate meaningful tasks to others?
- Are you slow to admit fault, apologize, and right your wrong?
- Do you find yourself in scenarios where a disagreement leads to an argument that leads to a screaming match, and then the aftermath that comes from not gaining immediate resolution?
- When you find yourself in an argument, what is your objective? Are you defensive and feel the need to prove your point to “win” and be declared the victor, the “right” one?
- Do you sometimes (or always) dismiss what some (or most) people say because you think they are misinformed, wrong, incompetent, ignorant, or any other descriptive that you can think of that disqualifies them from gaining your trust that they are qualified to share their opinion, lead you and others, etc?
- When speaking to someone do you find yourself thinking about what you’re going to say in response to them or are you listening fully to their statements to gain clarity?
- Are you quick to judge others? Can you admit that you’re more likely to judge “a book by its cover” before you read it?
- Do people call you a “know-it-all” or make statements that support this opinion? For example, “you don’t know everything” or “oh yeah, you’re always right” or “you just think you know every %@$# thing don’t you?”
- Do you get angered quickly? Do people say that your anger goes from zero to 100 in 60 seconds?
Family, if you answered “yes” to all or most of these questions, you too could have issues with mind and mouth control. In the book of James we learn about being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (v.19 ) and Colossians 3:13 tells us to forgive others as God forgives us, which means that we also must be quick to admit fault and accept responsibility for righting our wrong.
The argument took more than one person to ignite and become a firestorm. Divorce and other broken relationships are started first because of disconnect before they evolve into the madness that we obsess over. The splinters and cracks that kept you from having a solid foundation is only weakened by the flaws and failings you both bring in and place weight upon.
Impatience and lack of self-control will always result in you looking like a child, a victim, or a fool—or all three.
We call ourselves kings and queens. While we act like jesters. We call ourselves children of God, yet we oftentimes act like children of satan—plain ignorant.
Every statement doesn’t require a retort. Every question doesn’t require an immediate answer. Sometimes you do need to pause, pray, ask for and gain clarity, and then respond. You may have to learn the practice of saying. “I can’t clearly articulate my thoughts right now, can I reply at a later time when I can make sense of what I’m hearing and thinking?”
You don’t have to be right all or most of the time. Because even in your so-called rightness, you’re probably still wrong—because you’re only operating out of a miniscule understanding with limited knowledge and even less wisdom.
The wealth of information, misinformation, and blatant lies on the Internet is solid proof that you don’t know everything and neither do the billions of other people out there flapping their lips. Being wrong or not knowing the answer is acceptable. Our K-12 grade school experience has shell shocked us into fearing the humiliation, laughter and finger pointing (from classmates) that comes from hearing the teacher say, “that is incorrect” or seeing that evil-looking red ink on your paper showing you all the instances and ways that you were wrong…and obviously stupid.
Isn’t that how you felt? So you then become the student who is slow to raise their hand, dread being called on to answer a question or demonstrate a lesson or skill. You begin to turn inward and either you grow to become the person who has to prove everyone wrong who doubts you or you become the person intent on proving everyone’s worse opinion of you to be exactly true. Thank God for those of you in the middle who didn’t and don’t take either of those extreme positions. You’re far healthier for it.
For the rest of us, we have some healing and learning to do. We’re never too old to do either. So let today be the first day to make that first step.
Today, try something:
- See how long you can listen to someone before you feel the urge to respond in support of or against their opinion.
- See if you can work towards perfect 2-way communication to prevent a breakdown. When you’re the sender of the message it’s your responsibility to ensure that your intended message is fully received and understood. When you’re the receiver of the message, constantly provide feedback and ask clarifying questions to make sure that you’re fully understanding the message before you reply with your answer. If you’re not 100% sure then don’t reply with 100% surety.
- If you truly don’t know something then be silent or say, “I don’t know but I can try to get the answer...”
- If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing. Matter of fact, silently ask God to speak for you and to guide you to a safe space.
- Practice self-control. Your mind, your mouth, and your actions are your responsibility. It’s no one’s fault when you speak harshly or behave poorly. It’s your fault so take responsibility for self. Own your mess.
- Practice self-control today and try not to dictate to others, redirect people, control conversations or outcomes. If you’re a micromanager, work on letting go of your need to nitpick and stand over someone’s shoulder all of the time. Take the steps towards your healing.
- Practice patience today. Don’t feel the need to rush to give or extract from others answers to questions. Try to avoid finishing people’s sentences. No matter how long it takes them. Would you rush Jesus?
I pray that I don’t bite a hole in my lip today. LOL
Father thank You for today, this gift that only You can provide. Thank You for today’s Bible verse. It serves as a reminder to practice self-control and to always look within to connect with You.
Father help me to be fast to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger, and more willing to forgive and ask for forgiveness. Help me to see the true value of patience and waiting to see the gifts. Help me to see the value and freedom of letting go and letting You steer.
Go before me. Speak through me. Hold my tongue when anything other than Your goodness tries to slip out. Help me redirect my thoughts to align with Your perfect idea. Thank You for Your patience, understanding and forgiveness. I ask that You keep pouring that into me so that I can pour it into others.
Thanking You now for forgiving me when I mess up today. I will try not to, but if I do, thank You for Your loving forgiveness. Keep molding me Father. I love You. Let’s make today an awesome day, filled with love, hope and grace. In Jesus’ name I humbly and faithfully pray. Amen.
P.S. My apologies KB.
Copyright 2019. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.