“We’re in college!” said one girl in an irritated tone.

“Doesn’t she know we’re busy?” said the other. “I mean, that was my last chance to finish this stupid paper, and now it’s probably going to be late—due to Miss Put-Your-Laptop-Away. Who does she think she is? I don’t think we even need RA’s!”

“Plus, they should let us decide for ourselves if we need to go to chapel. What I need is to finish my homework right now!”

I couldn’t help but listen in as these two college students shared their grievous tale. And I couldn’t help but relate.

I remember once when a librarian told me that I needed to leave because the library was closed. I was trying to pick out an audio book for a trip I had the next day−I was leaving early, before the library reopened. I completely stormed out, muttering my complaints under my breath, then cried in my car.

I never claimed that this control thing was pretty.

When a Control Girl Gets Bossed

Control Girls don’t like to be bossed. I mean nobody does, but Control Girls reaaaaally don’t like it.

Control Girls don't like to be bossed. I mean, nobody does, but Control Girls really don't. So here's what makes things tricky. The only way to outgrow our Control Girl tendencies is to do the opposite. To surrender, even to a bossy person. Click To Tweet

And here’s what makes things tricky. They only way to grow out of this unhealthy desire for control that we have is to do the opposite. To surrender control. I’m not talking about surrendering something you’d ordinarily shrug your shoulders at. I’m talking about the gritty, uphill battle of giving up control that you’d really like to have. Here are the sort of situations that come to mind:

  • Your mom tells you to clean up the kitchen.
  • Your friend is always cutting you off when you’re trying to say something.
  • Your coach pulls you out of the game because of your attitude.
  • Your next door neighbor asks you to keep the noise down.
  • Your boss tells you your shoes aren’t in dress code.
  • Your roommate nags you about the crumbs on the counter.
  • The not-so-friendly officer writes you a ticket for five miles over.
  • The know-it-all of your group project says your part is wrong. It needs to be redone.
  • Your RA enforces the rule about laptops in chapel.

This type of situation naturally gives rise to your inner Control Girl—the part of you that says, “What?! This is not right.”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with determination or willpower as long as it’s channeled in the right direction. But here’s where there is a problem: When you consistently insist on having your way. When you’re fiercely against being bossed by anyone. Even your boss.

Let’s divide those situations I just mentioned into two groups and talk about them separately: the bosses and the bossy person.

The Bossy Boss

Obviously, we all have authority. Nobody is exempt. But some of us act like we shouldn’t really have to listen to authority. What do the mom, the coach, the boss, the officer, and the RA have in common? They’re your bosses. You’re supposed to submit to them. And here’s the important part: submission isn’t submission until you disagree. 

Let’s take the example of the bossy boss. Suppose you do think your new shoes are in dress code. Yes, they lace up, but they have a heel. Did she not even see they have a heel? They’re dressy! She obviously doesn’t get fashion. You decide to go above her head and get permission from the supervisor.

Hold up. You could do that. You could go to the supervisor about this and many other things. (I used to be the queen of going to the supervisor.) But if you plow forward each and every time, refusing to ever be bossed by your boss, this Control Girl thing is going to keep growing in your heart.

Do you doubt that it’s true? Just look around. Do you know any controlling women who are ten or twenty years older than you? They became that way, little by little. And so will you.

I’m not saying that you should never challenge your boss. But wait until it’s over something really important. Probably not shoes.

If you want to follow Jesus and live like he did, take the path of surrender. Learn to live under authority and surrender, even when you disagree. Remember Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane? He prayed, “Father if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). That was over something far more important than a pair of shoes. Jesus was about to be crucified, and he let God choose how things would turn out.

If you will choose, little by little, to let your boss decide on dress code and your mom decide on the kitchen and the police decide on whether you deserve a ticket, here’s what will happen. Surrendering to the authority in your life will change you. This little choices, one by one, will add up to a new direction of surrender.

The Bossy Person

But what about when the person bossing you isn’t your boss. He or she is just bossy.

Well, to some extent the same rules apply. If you consistently stand up to bossy people, you’ll become a bossy person. If you refuse to give anyone control, you’ll become a Control Girl.

Am I saying that you should always cave in to everyone? No, sometimes surrendering to God involves kindly asking your friend to stop cutting you off, when you’d rather not make waves. But here’s the goal. Be the kind of friend you’d like to have. Be one who listens to others. Whether with your friend, your roommate, your neighbor, or your classmate, work to consider input and have an open heart.

James 3: 7-18 say, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

If you will make choices day by day to put others first rather than insisting that you always be first and in control, this will change you. Little by little you’ll turn from a Control Girl to a Jesus Girl.

Get the whole series HERE.



Do you know a girl, ages 15-25 who might be a Young Control Girl? Will you send THIS INVITE her way? 

Check out my Bible study, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible. 

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