Dear Control Freak…

…just stop it already. Right now. Seriously.

You know who you are. You’re the ones “setting people straight” on social media and correcting their opinions.

You were the ones in the pandemic who pointed out when people stood 5 feet away from someone instead of 6. You scolded us every time we touched our faces, and our masks were never as safe as yours.

You are the ones shaming your overweight kids, saying you’re doing it because you want them to be healthy.

You’re the ones finding racism in the most innocent of places, and finding the worst in everyone.

And you church folks are busy correcting everyone’s theology and questioning their salvation when they don’t agree with you.

But you’re only doing it to help, right?

Take it from me. Your tweaks are as welcomed as being pecked to death by a duck.

Am I saying you’re wrong? Not necessarily. I’m only saying what you’re doing is not going to work. Why? Because shame is a weapon, not a tool.

Shame the chubby girl in school in the pretense of looking out for her health? You’ve only made it tougher for her ever to get truly healthy.

Shame the boy who can’t throw the football? Odds are he’ll stop trying to learn and feel less of a man for you shaming him.

No, I’m not a doctor, but I am a student of human nature. As a pastor, changing the world is one of my hobbies. And over the years, I’ve learned something about people – you rarely change them by ridiculing them. Actually, human nature works conversely: most people double down on the very behavior being criticized.

So while you’re busy trying to change the world right now, you need to understand this: You can’t control people!

True, there are a few exceptions. If you’re dealing with very small children or you’re a dictator of a totalitarian regime, your odds may be better. In those cases, you can control some actions for sure. I’ll bet every evil dictator started out thinking just what you’re thinking: “Wouldn’t the world be a better place if people just did things the way I do?”

But then again, “dictator” is not a job you’ll see a lot of requests for on So why are you applying for the position?

People are human, and they make mistakes even when they know better. They were never built to perform perfectly. Control is an illusion you’ll never be able to hold onto. And shame will not change anything, except maybe the size of your friends list on Facebook.

You may think I’m writing this just to let off some steam. No, I’m writing this for you. Why? Because, in the end, controlling and criticizing will only drive people you love away from you.

You see, there’s a good chance if you’re trying to control things now, you’ve been trying to control people in your life as well. We all want to feel in control. But demeaning others is a lousy way to feel powerful and make the world safe.

The Bible says it’s the lovingkindness of God that leads people to change (repentance). So perhaps a little love and kindness is the better strategy for changing the world.

But if you don’t stop trying to control people, they’ll avoid you, and you’ll be alone. And that’s a kind of social distancing no one wants.

Photo by Free Walking Tour Salzburg

Dave Gipson
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