How to Lead Without Controlling - A Wife Like Me
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How to Lead Without Controlling

January 13, 2022

By Joy Ballard

Leading without controlling is a skill many wives have not yet mastered. Yet I learned to do it with God’s help, and you can too.

Our Attempts to Control

Are you tired of trying to keep everything under your control? The pressure we feel as women to spin all the plates and fight for the outcomes we want can be crippling. There is a better way. 

As women, we hold an incredible amount of influence. From the tiniest habits to huge life decisions, we are directly and indirectly influencing our families all the time. 

We feel a weight of responsibility for these little humans we’re trying to keep alive, for the state of our home and the health of our family, often even for the success of our marriage. 

Sometimes our attempts at carrying out our felt responsibility turn from a healthy desire to help to a desperate need for control. 

Trying to Hold It All Together

In the past year, my family has experienced a lot of change. We moved to a different state and transitioned from a conventional work life with a house and a yard to a dad-in-school life with four kids in a townhome and no yard.

As the mom, I have experienced the ongoing feeling of needing to hold it all together for everyone else. I’ve tried managing the loneliness and the need for friends, the experience in a new place, the emotional and mental health of everyone. 

In the process, I’ve been the one suffering from a lack of perspective and joy. I’ve become resentful that it’s all up to me, when in reality no one has asked me to bear that weight except myself. 

Grasping for Outcomes

When I analyze what I’ve been doing, I see that I’m grasping for the outcomes I want to see, which is basically an attempt to control my life. 

The result is a deep loneliness and weariness. It feels like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders and I’m about to break. 

That is when Jesus’ words come back to me:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

Weary? Check.

Burdened? Check.

I find so much hope in Jesus calling me to him so I can learn from him. So I’ve been digging deep into the meaning of his words.

Accepting the Yoke with Jesus

The yoke is the piece of farming equipment that rests on the backs of two oxen for the purpose of plowing a field. Jesus is inviting you and me to share the load and work alongside him.  

When I imagine this type of work, I think of sweat and struggle. However, he says he is gentle and humble in heart, and that we will find rest for our souls in the process! He also says his yoke is easy and his burden light. 

Gentle. Humble. Rest. Easy. Light. I don’t know about you, but that all sounds so far from my typical daily experience. 

How to Lead Without Controlling

Plowing a field, raising kids, working on our marriage, serving God and others – it’s all hard work. How can we learn from Jesus’ gentle and humble approach?

There is rest for our soul when we let go of the outcomes and trust Jesus with the process. Not the kind of rest where you lay by the pool in a swimsuit. That may be fun, but it’s not sustainable. 

The rest we really crave and need is the kind where at the end of the day, even though not everything has been resolved or accomplished, you know you’ve done enough and you’ve done it well. So you can rest with peace. 

The work is never done. We cannot hold it all together or control it all. Only God can do that. He can teach us to lead without controlling.

Leading without controlling yields the kind of influence we actually desire. The way we live our life directly affects our spouse, our children and the people around us. This is a great responsibility of influence. Let’s not hold all the responsibility for that influence alone, but allow Jesus to shoulder it with us and teach us to work and rest his way. 


Wife Step: What is an area you can let go of your grasp for control for today? Trust Jesus’ gentleness and ask him to lead you to rest.

Joy Ballard Square

Joy was born and raised in a multicultural, bilingual family in the country of Mexico. Although she loves a good taco, her love for a Minnesota guy won out. 14 years of marriage, 4 kids and many geographical locations later, they now reside in Indiana where her husband is completing a doctoral program. Together they love helping couples discover the incredible adventure marriage was intended to be. They have led many marriage small groups, ministries and retreats, but their favorite way to connect with other couples is by simply sharing life together. When not deep in the throes of homeschooling and parenting, Joy enjoys devouring books, stringing words together, dabbling in watercolor, and sipping coffee with friends. Photo credit: Woodford Sisters Photography

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