The Myth of Control

This means that we were taught to teach children that they – and they alone – are in control of their own lives.
And this simply is not true.

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Finish this famous poem: “In fourteen hundred ninety-two / Columbus __________________.” (Answer: sailed the ocean blue)

I was taught in elementary school that Christopher Columbus discovered America, and this catchy poem was used to help me believe that.

But that’s a myth. Not only were there people already living in the Americas but there are numerous verified explorers who “discovered” the land before Columbus.

I was taught historical myths but I was also taught societal and secular myths. 

Example: I am in control. I have control over myself, how the world operates, and how my life will play out.

What I didn’t know, was that, combined with my own desires, believing this myth would have major consequences.

Being Taught to Teach a Myth

I graduated from the University of Missouri, where I studied Early Childhood Education. I thoroughly enjoyed my professors, classmates, and most (like 99%) of the lessons we learned. But there was one thing we were taught in particular that I strongly disagreed with.

We were taught that we should teach and implement rhythms in our classrooms that fostered independence and autonomy. Basically, we were taught to encourage and help young children believe they are self-governed and they are self-determined.

This means that we were taught to teach children that they – and they alone – are in control of their own lives. 

And this simply is not true. 

So, What is the Truth?

God is sovereign, in control of all things. We are not God which means we definitely can not be independent and autonomous.

We are held accountable for our thoughts, words, and actions, but God is sovereign over all of those things as well. The relationship between human responsibility and God’s sovereignty is not a contradiction but rather a truth that remains mysterious.

What young children need to be taught is that God can do all things, he does whatever he pleases, he works all things for the good of those who love him, and all things work together to give him glory (Job 42:2Psalm 135:6Romans 8:28).

I’ll gladly teach that.

Being Taught the Truth

I learned that God is sovereign over all things soon after becoming a Christian. But apparently I had much more to learn about God’s sovereignty… it just took a near-death experience to show it to me.

After my heart infection, heart failure, and traumatic brain injury, I quickly learned that I am not in control of my life. I was “doing all the right things” and I thought I had my life planned out, but as soon as I regained consciousness from my ten-week coma, it was painfully obvious to me that God had another plan for me. I learned that his ways are not my ways and his plan was not my plan… and that’s a good thing (Isaiah 55:8)!

I was taught the truth, that God is in control and I am not.

Why is This Good News Right Now?

Two reason why belief in God’s sovereignty is better than belief independence and autonomy:

  1. Freedom from Anxiety and experiencing Peace – Believing that God is sovereign frees you from anxiously pursuing “the dream.” It allows you to experience genuine peace because if God is sovereign, he will bring you to a destination that will be for your good and his glory. (This does mean it will be pain-free, but instead your pain will have a God-given meaning and purpose.)
  2. Freedom from Fear and experiencing Boldness – Believing that God is sovereign will also free you from fear of failure and allow you to experience boldness. Trusting that God is in control emboldens you to fearlessly and courageously live life the the fullest. (Again, not pain-free but boldly facing trials trusting God didn’t lose control and is with you through it all.)

The myth that we are in control is dangerous and will eventually lead us to despair. Believing the truth that God is sovereign it only bring us God-given peace and boldness.

Don’t teach young children the myth of independence and autonomy. Teach them God is in control. You need to know it and so do they.

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