Controlling the Controllables…and leaving the rest to God

by Lindsey Wingo (Keep reading below for a special announcement!)

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Recently I was sitting in a session for minister’s wives as Kay Warren shared this simple truth:

“Control the controllables, and leave the uncontrollables to God.” – Kay Warren

Those words hit me like a ton of bricks, while at the same time, lifted a heavy burden from my back!

Sometimes motherhood, marriage, and the uncertainty of the future feels heavy to me. And when I find myself overwhelmed in the midst of it all, my natural tendency is to seek control however I can find it.

I shouldn’t be surprised by that reality. It’s a problem women have had since the garden days. It is a constant battle for me to surrender my family and our future to the Lord.

The truth is, the natural desire of my flesh is to control the ones I love and fit them into the mold I have created for them. But this is nothing more than a false idol in my life that must be laid on the altar daily. Do I really believe that my thoughts are superior to God’s? That my way is best? My actions and words tell that story far too often. And because I know this is an issue rooted deeply in the hearts of most women, I know I am not alone in this struggle.

Mommas, I’ve been convicted it is time to lay down the heavy burden of control. Most of the things we try our best to control we are completely incapable of controlling in the first place!

So, that leads me to this question…what are some things we can control?

With the Lord’s help:

We can surrender our desire for control following God’s plan instead.

My father is a pastor, and though I live far from him now, I still learn so much from his wisdom. In a recent sermon he said:

“If we follow God’s pattern, we can have access to God’s power.”

And this is God’s pattern and action plan for us as wives and moms:

  • First, we must minister to the Lord in prayer and worship.
  • The Lord then ministers to us through His Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
  • Only then are we able to minister to others effectively.

According to the dictionary, a minister “attends the needs of someone.”

Moms, raise your hand if that seems to describe every moment of your day! Can I get a witness?! As my father said in his sermon, too often we skip the first two steps of our ministry and go straight into ministering to others. But our own tanks eventually run dry and our wits come to an end. But God’s power is limitless and He offers it to us freely! The Lord desires our worship and our utter dependence upon Him. He wants to display His glory through our weaknesses—2 Corinthians 12:9.

In his book, “Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Parenting,” Paul David Tripp says:

“God’s greatest and most wonderful gift to you as a parent is himself…God knew that our calling would be so huge and our weakness so deep that the only thing that would help us was himself…This God who has the ability to do things that are way beyond your ability to concieve, who has perfect wisdom and unlimited strength, right now lives inside of you…Sure, there will be times when you’ll find yourself at the end of your rope, but fight fear and discouragement with expectancy; your Savior’s rope never ends, and he will never leave you alone!”

When we minister to God in praise and prayer, He faithfully ministers to us through his Word and His Spirit in us. Then we can confidently minister to those in our care. We must follow God’s pattern in order to get the power we desperately need!

We can control our emotions and thought lives.

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a pity party and realized you were the only one in attendance? When we find ourselves dwelling on the negative aspects of the people we love or our current circumstances we can be sure we are on a slippery slope going downhill fast!

We must choose not to replay those same old tapes in our minds over and over again until we are in such an emotional pit that we can’t see the way back out.

We must realize that our emotions are fickle. Strong emotions do not necessarily equate truth or reality. We simply cannot trust them to guide us well!

With the Holy Spirit as our guide we can surrender our emotions, being honest with the Lord about our feelings and desires, and leave it to Him from there.

Then we can begin to replace the lies we’ve believed with Truth. God’s Word gives us the power to literally change the way we think.

The following passage of scripture might be a good place to start.

Memorize it.

Write it out.

Pray it back to the Lord until you see it begin to take root in your heart!

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:5-6 ESV

We can control our priorities.

I’m convinced that my number one priority as a wife and a parent must be drawing near to God myself, so that my family members will see in me a genuine faith in every circumstance.

This doesn’t mean I’ll do everything perfectly. But when I simply talk the talk rather than live out the faith I profess, it does more damage than good. My loved ones see the real me day in, day out. If they do not see me living out genuine faith that comes from intimate time with the Father, they will not want what I claim to have.

After our personal relationships with the Lord, I believe our families should be our next priority. That may mean saying no to seemingly good things sometimes. But nothing else is more important than the eternal souls of those in our care.

There are many other priorities to evaluate as a wife and mom—our jobs, our physical health, our friendships, our ministries. I know there is nothing worse for my patience and ability to serve my family than overcommitting and stretching myself too thin. They souldn’t recieve my leftovers, but far too often that is the case.

We can choose to reevaluate and control our commitments and priorities. We must ask the Lord to speak into them and willingly drop anything necessary to get us back on track in this area.

We can control our tongues.

This is a big one for me! I’m constantly asking the Lord to guard my tongue. I want to build my family up with my words and bring my negative remarks before the Lord in prayer.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21 ESV

“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:26 ESV

So moving forward…

I’m asking the Lord to help me make Him my first priority.

I’ll strive to follow His pattern for power in my life.

I’m choosing to lay my burdens, frustrations, complaints and hurts down at His feet.

I am trusting Him to make all things beautiful in my family His way—not mine.

I’m smashing the idol of my own picture of how my family should be.

I’m trusting that God’s picture is better than I could ever create myself.

I’m surrendering my tongue and my words to the Lord and asking Him to place a guard over my mouth (Psalm 141:3).

His Holy Spirit is much better at changing hearts and lives than my manipulating and nagging ever could be. His ways are higher and His heart for my family and yours can be trusted! Won’t you join me?

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” Psalm 28:7 ESV

Lindsey Wingo

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I want to take this opportunity to tell our wonderful readers about some exciting changes coming to the Missional Motherhood blog. This blog was birthed three years ago, and I’ve been humbled and honored to see what the Lord has done so far. Through much prayer, I have decided to step away from my role as the primary editor of the Missional Motherhood blog (at least for the foreseable future). Beginning in July we will be partnering with the Women’s Ministry at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN. I am thrilled to have such an incredible team of women, as well as the technological team at Bellevue, to guide Missional Motherhood’s online presence moving forward. It is our desire to reach as many women as possible with the life-changing message of the gospel and the power it has to change us and change our families. I am looking forward with an expectant heart to see what the Lord will continue to do through the ministry of Missional Motherhood! It has been His from the beginning and will continue to be. May Jesus Christ receive glory through every word shared through this platform. And may women be encouraged and equipped to know God personally and make Him known to their children. May we, through the power of the Holy Spirit, raise up a mighty army of genuine Christ-followers! I am praying for a generation of faithful believers like never before.

We will not hide these truths from our children;
    we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
    about his power and his mighty wonders.”

Psalm 78:4 NLT

4 comments

  1. Abigail Baggs says:

    Lindsey, thanks so much for sharing this! I definitely needed this word today, and I was sharing with my girlfriends at church yesterday how much trouble I have with only trying to control MY part and leave God’s part up to Him! And thank you for your faithfulness to start this blog. I was fortunate to find Missional Motherhood about a year and a half ago, right after I became a mother. I’m excited to see what Bellevue’s WM does moving forward! God bless you and your (whole) family!

    • Lindsey Wingo says:

      Thank you for your comment, Abigail! I’m so glad MM has been a blessing to you in your Motherhood journey. And this subject in particular has been a difficult lesson for me to learn personally! But I’m learning it’s so much better to live a life of trust and surrender. God bless you!

  2. Gina says:

    I’m smashing the idol of my own picture of how my family should be.
    Wow – that was so convicting to me. Thank you for sharing that Lindsey!

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