Question 5: Do they call you the “Food Nazi”?
Or the “Seatbelt Nazi”? Or the “(Fill-in-the-blank) Nazi?” Are there people at work, home, or in your community who might say that you micromanage, overstep, or insist on your way?
Back when our kids were still in diapers, there was a woman at church whom my husband privately nicknamed, ‘The Nursery Nazi’. This woman was incredibly committed to our church and probably worked more hours that then pastor. She was also (in my opinion) a Control Girl. Her passion in life was to enforce the rules of our church’s nursery.
My husband Ken, who is a renegade at heart, could never seem to remember the purple tag required to claim your kids at the nursery counter. He would forget to fish it out of my purse, or accidentally toss it out with his coffee cup. As a result, he had many run-ins with the Nursery Nazi. Somehow he always won and got to bring the kids home, but not without a fight!
Though she knew us personally, the Nursery Nazi would hold Ken hostage for extended periods, glaring and refusing to budge while he kept saying, “Sorry. I don’t have the purple tag. Should I pick him up next week?”
Ohhhh, he was so provoked by this woman! Sunday after Sunday, he would voice his frustration about her all the way home with ever-increasing intensity. Though I can’t prove it, I think sometimes he threw out those purple tags on purpose, just to spite her! She was a thorn in his flesh.
Now, did my husband love our kids and want them to be safe? Yes. Did he appreciate that our church took safety precautions and had policies to protect children? Yes. But did he appreciate the headstrong efforts of the Nursery Nazi? No. Emphatically, no.
I don’t work in the church nursery, but there are other things in life that I find my hands in a strangle hold on. Like where the dirty clothes go. Or what music my kids listen to. Or the ministry I help lead.
Women have a way of clamping down on their own ideals or expectations–especially when we’re convinced that we’re right and others are wrong. We might not be trying to frustrate or irritate people (sometimes we are). We’re just convinced that we know what is best for everyone involved! And we’re willing to stand our ground and make that happen.
But here’s the issue. When we clamp down and insist on our ideals, we tend to provoke other people, rather than influence them for good.
Have you ever seen this happen in your life? For instance:
- How do your kids respond to your vigilant monitoring of their food and its ingredients? What about their media consumption? Or their study habits?
- How does your husband respond when you audit his daily eating and exercise habits? What about his spending habits? Or the way he uses his free time?
- How does your family respond when you obsess over germs and hand-washing? What about other safety precautions like locking doors and wearing seatbelts?
- How do coworkers respond when you doggedly insist on doing things the “right” way? What about when you hold others responsible for even the smallest, most inconsequential rules or refuse to ever make exceptions?
Control Girls have such good intentions. We see ourselves as invested and committed. We only control because we care!
But God never designed for us to be Control Girls. When we’re convinced that it’s all up to us, and that we must take control, we take on the role of God–and we never do a good job of it. “Playing God” only turns us into frantic, obsessive, angry, perfectionistic, dreadful women.
And when we micromanage, overstep, and insist on our way, other people naturally want to resist or withdraw. They become defensive and stubborn. Rather than welcoming our input and influence, they roll their eyes and endure it.When we micromanage, overstep, and insist on our way, others naturally resist and become defensive or stubborn. Rather than welcoming our input and influence, they roll their eyes and endure it. Click To Tweet
Letting God be God
God is in control, and I am not.
Say that to yourself. Do you believe it’s true?
If we are convinced that the opposite is true—that God is not in control and we are, we create tension and frustration wherever we go. Thankfully, there’s no need to continue in this negative pattern.
Are you a Control Girl? Do you want to learn to be a Jesus Girl instead? I encourage you to check out my book, Control Girl, for a full discussion on the topic. But here are a few ideas to get you started, especially if someone is calling you a Nazi of some sort:
- Make a list of situations from the past two months, when tension was high because you clamped down or adamantly insisted on your way. Pray through your list and ask God to show you any selfishness, perfectionism, or stubbornness in your heart.
- Now make a list of relationships in which you have tried to play God. Pray through your list and invite God to come and take His rightful place in each of these people’s lives.
- Meditate on some verses that help you to reflect on God’s infinite control over the whole universe. (I love Psalm 33.) Choose a way to rejoice in the fact that God is in control. Maybe you could journal or sing. Purposefully settle your heart, trusting in His sovereign reign over the situations that most tempt you to take control.
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Join me for a study of seven Control Girls of the Bible, who struggled with control in the same way we do: they pushed for their own agendas, tried to make everything turn out according to their plans, and made everybody miserable in the process. By comparing their stories with ours, we learn—in hundreds of ways and examples—that God is in control and we aren’t. And He invites us to live like it’s true.