We all want to be in control. We freak out when we are not in control. Relationships often end over petty arguments because when someone disagrees with us it communicates we cannot control them. When you cannot control someone it leads to mistrust.

Being a trustworthy person is not simply telling the truth. You can tell the truth all day long and the people closest to you can still mistrust you.

I was shocked the first time someone said they couldn’t trust me. It’s only happened once in my life. I’m far from perfect, but I try to be an honest person. I believe the person I am on stage is the person you will see when we hang out. I’m flawed, imperfect, can get crabby, can be defensive, and I stink at admin. I’m flawed, but before this interaction I had never had anyone say, “I don’t trust you.”

So when the words were spoken I was shook. I immediately went to some people close to me to ask if I had a major blind spot. No one confirmed what this one person said.

I was left scratching my head.

A few weeks after this incident I read a blog post entitled “Church Boards Do Not Have To Be Dysfunctional.” 

It was written by a blogger that I read regularly. Some weeks I skim the posts. Other weeks I read the whole thing. This post was a vlog (Video blog) and I wasn’t interested in making the time to watch it. I decided to skim the recap at the bottom to simply see if there was anything worth coming back to watch the video once I had time. A line that stood out to me was…

“I would argue that two defining characteristics of church cultures are bureaucracy and control. These are often fueled by a third characteristic: mistrust.”

That caught my attention because of the recent comment made towards me.

After watching the video a light went off in my brain. It was clear from the video that control is linked to power, and a lack of control leads to mistrust.

Control leads to mistrust.

This is difficult because we can’t control anyone.

Humans were created to be free.

Sure we need boundaries, but the freedom to choose is a powerful part of the human experience. We don’t have to fall in love, we choose to. We don’t have to be friends with people, we choose to. We don’t have to serve God, we choose to. We don’t have to work at the job we have, we choose to.

I’m convinced that a lot of our problems with God come from the fact that He is in control and we are not.

The essence of faith is trust. In order to trust you must give up control.

When we can’t control someone it leads to using fear tactics.

The Church has been guilty of this.

To control people it’s tempting to use fear. To get people to stop smoking beer and drinking marijuana while they sleep with anything that has a pulse the Church has, in times, used fear tactics.

The problem is the fear tactics don’t lead to life change. It leads to secret sins. People are still going to do what they want to do, they will just learn to hide it in the presence of someone they fear.

So what do we do?

If we ultimately can’t control others what is the answer?

We must commit to the following…

It is not my job to control other people, but it is my job to control myself.

If we spent as much energy trying to control ourselves as we did others no one would be overweight, addicted, a gossip, insecure, envious, etc.

It is so stink’n difficult to control myself.

But that’s all I can control.

I can’t control what others are going to say or do to me. I can control how I respond.

This takes intentional practice.

When we practice controlling ourselves we develop the skills necessary to thrive when the poo hits the fan.

I’m a work in progress on this. I have a long way to go.

It’s so easy to get impatient with my kids. It’s so easy to say I’m only going to eat one piece of pizza and then devour four…and breadsticks…and then at the point my diet is shot so I might as well eat ice cream. Go big or go home. Oh me. I digress.

It’s so easy to be lazy when it comes to myself and to become hyper focused when it comes to controlling others.

You cannot control others. I cannot control others. Let’s work today on making the choice to control ourselves.

When a person controls themselves well it inspires others to change.

What relationships do you attempt to control the most? What area do you struggle to control yourself the most? How have you seen control and mistrust linked?


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Rob Shepherd

I am the full-time husband of a wonderful woman! I love being married! We are proud parents to twins, Hayden and Reese. In my spare time I am the pastor of Next Level Church. I have a relationship with God and it is an adventure. Oh and I wrote a book. It's called Even If You Were Perfect Someone Would Crucify You.


  1. September 29, 2016

    Good stuff Rob! Doesn’t control ultimately point to sin and selfishness? As you point out, mistrust is a sign of lack of control. While reading, I was reminded of Jesus saying, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, but you…” and “Not my will but yours be done.” And what about the Phil 2 text? Doesn’t Paul point out humility (lack of control) lead to surrender? Much to think about. Thanks again!

    • September 29, 2016

      Mike, great additions!!! I love the Scriptures. Thanks for adding that to the discussion.

  2. Michele Martin
    September 29, 2016

    Unfortunately, I try to control my husband. He is so easy-going and agreeable that I sometimes stop and notice that I am bossing him around. Not in a rude way, but definitely telling him what to do or how we should do whatever we are about to do. We have talked about it, and I have asked him to offer more input. Because in the absence of another opinion being put forward, I will just take over without even realizing it. Then I feel awful!!!

    • September 29, 2016

      Michele, this self reflection is HUGE! Great job. I’m sure Jeff appreciates you and values how you treat him.

  3. Teresa Matthews
    October 2, 2016

    This is a very good read. I need guidance from a Pastor’s point of view on my situation. My husband and I were/are Ministers, but have come to an impasse in our lives. My husband asked me to leave our home/parsonage this past July 21, 2016, because he was angry with me. We have a ministry that we started 8 years ago, but no church. He has always preached with an anointing! But, 3 years ago, he had a massive heart attack and then another one 4 months later, which resulted in an open heart surgery with 3 bypasses. After that, his health started declining. He lost interest to do things and get out of the house. Pastors in our area didn’t want him preaching from their pulpits, because he was very blount (they felt arrogant) and firm when he preached from their pulpits. He started making statements about how a lot of Pastors were wrong in what they preached, and he could “help” them if they would just listen to him. This was referring to any denomination or non-denominational church. Therefore, he lost many, many pastoral friends. He has lived in our home without anyone coming to see him or showing that they care for over 3 years. I feel I have been the one he takes it all out on many, many times and it has hurt me to the bone, but I still loved him! He made a man cave in our den and that is where he lives day and night, 24/7, Depressed and oppressed, mad at the world, and me also, I guess. All of his siblings died in their late 40’s-56 of massive heart attacks and one with pancreatic cancer. He has no family left other than 2nd and 3rd cousins whom he rarely sees. I WAS his only immediate family. He has outlived them all at 57 years of age. I still have my Mother, my sister, and my 3 children from my 1st marriage. The past year, I feel he started struggling with my family and them not accepting him the last few years. He had made statements that were so far in left field so to speak, that no one had any trust in him, My family especially. He had asked me to leave him several times over this past year, but I always stayed because he WAS my Best Friend and I loved him so very much! I always told him I loved him and I was not leaving him!! We even talked of him getting help to get off of narcotics he had been on since his surgery. But he never went. Everyone, even his Drs, told him he needed help. But he felt he didn’t and everyone was just wrong about him. But that day, after coming home from eating out with my daughter, he bluntly told me to leave. And if I didn’t leave this time, either he would kill me, or I would kill him eventually! I was sooo hurt! This is a minister of the Gospel telling me this!! I started packing and in several weeks moved in with my elderly Mother. I don’t know what to say to him now, so I say nothing. I’m silent. He has bitterness for so many people including me. What he calls love, this I cannot see. We were always Best Friends! Always talked to each other about things. We both knew our very hearts desires. But somehow, it all changed with arguments and bitterness. I’d lay in our king size Master BR day in and day out, while he slept 24 hrs a day in his den. This went on for over a year. We had a church during our ministry a few years back. We stayed there almost 9 months and then he decided we should leave. He felt people were not listening to him and were being guided by a previous pastor there. So we left. I’m not trying to complain here, just explaining what has happened. A Pastor may go through what any other man would go through, with temptations, trust, mistrust, and feeling defeated! They are not amune to anything in this world!! They do however, have to keep prayed up and pray that their congregation will back them with their love and prayers but that’s not always the case. We saw it many, many times. I’m writing this because your post hit me so hard! Here I am, a Pastor’s wife, that’s hurting so deeply. I have no idea on how to move forward. I’m stunned, hurt, whole body feels numb. Can you recommend someone or something I can do to help my Best Friend, my Husband? And help me while they’re at it? He never mentioned a marriage counselor, and I didn’t think of it until now. He would have though, had it been a member of “his” congregation. I’m very heart broken. Can you advise?

    • October 3, 2016

      Teresa, are you out of the house now? I think getting you to a safe distance is the first priority. It would be good for you to see someone to talk about what you are going through. If there is a Christian counselor near by I’d go see them. Unfortunately there are no easy answers or quick fixes for your husband. You pray. You love him, even if that means you have to love from a distance. This is a big situation and you need more help than I can give you in a comment. If there is a denominational tie you could check with someone there to see what resources they offer. For now, make sure you are safe and healing. We cannot control others, but we have to learn how to control what’s going on inside of us.


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