categories:, communication, development, leadership, staff, team, time management, working together
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November 2nd, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

17 comments (+ Add)

Letting Go of Control

To move forward, you often have to let go of something significant.

Too often, what we hold tightly keeps us from following God’s promptings toward something new.

This week I’ll write about a few things leaders need to let go. We’ll start with control.

Too many leaders try to control too much. Our perceived need to control is one of the greatest limiting factors to what God wants to do.

When we control everything:

  • We train people to do what they are told rather than think.
  • We build followers instead of leaders.
  • We put a lid on our ministries.
  • We put our faith in our abilities to manage rather than in God and other people.

What are you controlling that you need to let go of?

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there are a total of17
  1. 1Avery
    Nov 2, 2009 at 6:28 am

    when we try to control … We put our faith in our abilities to manage rather than in God and other people.

    Its amazing how we can look up at the stars and think about how the God of the Heavens holds the universe in His hands…and then forget He is in control and try to accomplish things our own ways…

    I think about the speck of this little planet (in comparison to the universe), and the tiny particle I am, and how little I can accomplish though I may put everything I have into it…

    It reminds me to “listen” to the Maker of these things… though I don’t always unerstand His ways… He is in control… after all it was His wisdom who hung the heavens which He keeps…

  2. Nov 2, 2009 at 7:29 am

    I immediately thought when reading this - isn’t this because we often confuse leadership with control? I think we often have a hard time dealing with letting go in the areas you listed because we think that as leaders we need to control those areas and if we let go then people will judge us in relation to those. I think we miss out on what leadership is which prevents us from letting go. (Man am I preaching to myself now). Letting go of control will free us - you are right on!

  3. Nov 2, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Losing a staff member caused/led me to take control of certain areas, areas I have business being in. I have been more than willing to give them up to far more competent people who have finally stepped up. I agree with Jim’s assessment but what do you do if the expectation placed on you by some leaders (because of past church tradition involvement) is to take and/or stay in control? Looking forward to this week’s posts Craig.

  4. Nov 2, 2009 at 8:20 am

    Letting go= raising up other people (I often struggle). This causes your ministry to grow to places you might not have been able to take it.
    Letting go= retaining people. They want to use their gift so allow them to use it in your ministry.
    You will have more hands reaching reaching more people.

    I am constantly reminding myself to stick where God has positioned me and not drift to others post…. a challenge for me!! :)

  5. 5Steve
    Nov 2, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Wow! Looking forward the rest. This stuff should be a daily vitamin that all leaders swallow. Trying to control the outcome.

  6. Nov 2, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Great post Craig.
    I am at a different church in Charlotte, NC now as Worship Pastor.
    Sometimes I get the feeling that I need to do everything, especially in these early days (Ive been here for 2 months now). But God is showing me that I will burnout if I try to do it all. This post is a great reminder to let some things go. I am giving some discipleship opportunities to people around me. I am still able to disciple my leaders, but also letting them disciple their teams.
    I can’t wait for more insight!

  7. Nov 2, 2009 at 9:05 am

    “We put a lid on our ministries.”….greattttttttt post….If for instance, the leader of the church, who has no calling for kids ministry, controls that ministry, instead of managing, then that would totally LIMIT the kids minister/leader GREAT VISION for the kids…ya gotta manage or better put…KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON…but if you are not careful your control will limit the effectiveness of the whole…

  8. Nov 2, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Hey Bill, I will answer this as if I am the one dealing with the problem. This is easy for me to say and hard to do.

    When the culture of a church is dictating that the pastor have his hand in too many places, I need to change the culture. I realize dealing with this culture comes at a great cost to me as a pastor, but I wonder if the cost of not dealing with it isn’t greater? Burn out, anger, resentment, ministry failure….

    I would start by connecting with those who have the greatest influence in the church and explain why I am not going to take more on. Why it is unhealthy for the church and what the Bible teaches about your leadership role. I would give them examples of other healthy churches that are following the Biblical model of the pastor leading and equipping rather than doing all kinds of ministry. I would remember that even if I have taught this before I need to refresh those influential leaders again on the direction of our church. I would empower leaders to recruit a person or people to lead that ministry and or do the recruiting myself.

    If a person cannot be recruited or no one is willing I would let it go… and if necessary let that area of ministry crash and burn. The truth taught will have amazing impact or get a pastor fired one or the other :-). I truly believe the cost of letting the ministry crash (there’s a good chance it won’t because someone will step up) is far less than the cost imposed on a pastor that is doing “everything. The benefits of a church moving towards health far outweigh the small loss of letting a ministry area go for a season.

    Love to have some push back and have others help me see this more clearly.

  9. Nov 2, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Wow; just reading this in my feed and its exactly where I’ve been feeling empty as one who hasn’t been “led” and has been leading others. God bless you for putting this out there, and helping all of us see clearly what leading/serving looks like.

  10. Nov 2, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I wonder if we control in order to keep our jobs? Rather than leading and letting God take care of us. Just thinking out loud.

  11. Nov 2, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Much of this, perhaps, comes from the ingrained idea that to control equals being responsible for the ministry and the misdirected belief that we must know every detail of every ministry in order to account for our work.
    Plus, some pastors have been burned by rogue people who undermine the pastor because they are flying under the radar. Sometimes control is a result of a bad experience.

  12. Nov 2, 2009 at 12:36 pm


    I would pray the Holy Spirit makes them feel the way they need to feel. It can move them. I would also explain how you’ve deeply prayed about it and feel the Spirit is leading you in a different direction - and that you have to follow the Spirit, not man.

    God bless it bud!

  13. Nov 2, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Brandon & Jared: appreciate your thoughts. Actually, I do have the support of the majority of the elders in my position of giving up control. When we were looking to leave our current rented facility, I was told that we wanted out. I looked. We all looked. Final result: we are back in our old rented facility. One elder resigned/left because “I didn’t make it happen.” I do know he thought I ought to have more control of things but at the same time told some folks that I defied the elders. Go figure. He is no longer with us. Thanks again for the input. For the record: I choose to delegate rather than grab both horns and hang on for dear life.

  14. Nov 2, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    I need to let go of my life.
    I am trying to be the leader of my life and not letting God lead. To think that I am in control shows that I am truly out of control.

  15. Nov 2, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    This is an area that I have learned to embrace with the coaching of some other leaders. I am a perfectionist and feel “if they can’t do it better, then I’ll do it.” But I’m learning to let go of some things and to allow them to be led by others even if a little messy at times. I believe it will free me up to excel in what I feel called to do.

  16. Nov 4, 2009 at 2:27 am

    I think that most leaders go through the control issues at one time or another and I am certain when you think you have let go there are times when take things back if even for only a season. I know that I have been guilty of holding on too tightly but I believe because of ministry growth it was essential to let go and put trusted individuals in place to help lead in key areas in the ministry so that we could reach and care for those that are serving along with us, which would have been out of the question for me to be able to care and love on on my own.