When someone behaves in ways that don’t seem to make sense it’s usually due to one of the “formidable four” motivators: looking good, feeling good, being right, or, today’s focus: being in control.

The older I get the more sure I am that it is impossible to control anyone … other than myself.

And, controlling myself is a full-time job. 

Ironic that we invest so much energy and effort trying to control that which is most uncontrollable: another human being.

Don’t believe me?

Try raising a child.

You may eventually soothe your bellowing newborn, but not before dozens of attempts to quiet her went unheeded.

Teenagers?  We had six… at one time.   Honestly, I don’t know if any of us were under control at all during those chaotic years.

Undaunted by the reality that we can’t control our kids, co-workers, congregation, or spouse, we continually employ strategies in an attempt to do just that.   

The beleaguered clerk who, after being humiliated at work, comes home and browbeats her spouse.

A teen who, feeling powerless to communicate effectively with his parents, steals the car and runs away from home.

The spouse of the rapidly-ascending politician who suddenly comes down with a mysterious illness and can no longer make public appearances.

An elder who, being confronted, deftly pivots and attacks the semantics or logic of the person raising the concern.

The denominational executive, discouraged by the anemia in the churches under her influence, who travels from one seminar to the next hoping something will happen to stem the tide of attendance and financial declines.

A minister who pretends not to see troubling immorality among church officials, hoping it will all take care of itself.

These control strategies have enormous prices attached to them. Prices are extracted from the perpetrator and those connected to him.  When I’m with a coaching client who’s operating out of the formidable four, we explore the impact on those closest to the client.

What prices are your loved-ones, co-workers, congregants paying?

What do you think it’s like to be in relationship with you?

The key is to drill down far enough until the client has embraced – both mentally and emotionally – the devastation caused others.  This is slow, painful work.

To be impacted by the pain one’s control strategies have caused others is central to repentance. 

The Apostle Paul noted: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation…but worldly sorrow brings death.” [2 Cor 7:10]  See, worldly sorrow is sorrow for myself.

But when God sorrows, God sorrows for us. [Lk 19:41]  So, to truly repent from our commitments to the formidable four, the pathway runs straight into the suffering we cause others.

From this place, repentance lasts a lifetime



Coaching Distinctions # 9