If I focus on something I can’t change (for example, adding more hours to my day), rather than what I can change, (what I do with those hours), I feel helpless and overwhelmed. String together a few days like that and hopelessness sets in as well.
On the other hand, when I focus my energy on the things I can impact, I feel empowered and hopeful.
God has designed us to live within divinely-appointed boundaries. We are given a great deal of freedom to exercise stewardship within these boundaries.
We don’t have to understand or acknowledge God’s ways for them to be real and influential in our lives. Whether we believe God or not, whenever we operate in conflict with his revealed truth we will experience stress, pain, conflict and all the effects of sin.
You don’t have to believe in the law of gravity or even understand all the science behind it. But if you step off a cliff, you’re going to fall.
What’s Within the Realm of My Stewardship?
God has placed within my control, and holds me accountable for how I manage the following aspects of MYSELF:
I may control my attitudes, desires, feelings, and responses.
I determine how I will give and receive love.
I have dominion over my body and to a certain extent my material possessions.
I may decide what I believe, value, and think about God. What I choose to believe, value, and think may or may not be accurate, but God allows me the free will to decide if I will accept the Truth He reveals of Himself.
Please notice the word MYSELF above. It is MY mental, physical, emotional, physical, and spiritual attributes over which I have stewardship; not yours.
Stress increases whenever I allow my focus to move beyond MY realm of stewardship and try to control any of these areas which are rightfully within the realm of someone else.
Think back over your past day (or week, or month). What stressed you out? When did you feel overwhelmed?
Were you trying to exert control over something or someone outside your realm of stewardship?
Were you tense because of another person’s attitudes, desires, feelings, or responses?
Or maybe someone’s opinion posted on social media or in the news sent your blood pressure rising?
When I find myself in a dither, I often discover it is a mess of my own making. I’m usually trying to handle more than God intended for me to handle (and in the process ignoring and neglecting aspects of my life for which he has given me stewardship).
When I become obsessed with making someone else do, see, feel, think, or value what I want them to do, see, feel, think, or value my stress goes up because I’m trying to operate outside the boundaries God set for me.
Amazingly, when I return my focus to MY OWN responsibilities, I am able to make an impact by having influence rather than control.
Influence versus Control
Each of us has a circle of influence. These are the people, organizations, communities and such with which God has connected us. He blesses us with blessings and expects us to use those blessings to bless those within our circles of influence.
That is very different from seeking to control.
Influence is other-centered. It seeks their best and God’s plan for them, not our best and our plan for them.
When I respect the boundaries of others, I communicate I trust God and respect both Him and the other person. When I manipulate or coerce, I reveal I don’t trust God in the situation. And I show disrespect for Him and the people I seek to control.
Influence occurs where there is trust and a possibility of real relationship. When my friend, child, or spouse feels safe with me, we are able to discuss things we differ on. And as I share my thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and values and seek to understand theirs, we can influence one another and seek out the truth together.
If we are seeking TRUTH, rather than our own way, we need not fear relinquishing control.
When we trust God’s abilities more than our own, we are freed up to exercise the best possible stewardship over our own realms and leave the outcome to God.
Try it out for yourself. Whenever you feel over-extended, worried, anxious, or tense do a quick check of yourself. Are you trying to operate outside your God-given realm of stewardship?
Need a little help? Book a FREE Coaching Session!
Figuring out how to stay in our own lane and focus on relinquishing control over the things outside our God-given realm of stewardship can be challenging! It helps to have someone come alongside you and provide you with:
- focused encouragement,
- loving accountability, and
- a structured process to accomplish your goals and make changes faster, with more confidence, and less frustration than you could on you own or with just your existing support system.