Self-control Is Just Controlling Yourself

August 1, 2022


There you go. The title of this article today is a definition of self-control. Self-control is just controlling yourself. Here's an actual account of an event that happened in 1986. Self-control could and should have easily prevented this tragic occurrence.

In the summer of 1986, two ships collided in the Black Sea off the coast of Russia. Hundreds of passengers died after being hurled into the icy water below. News of the disaster got worse when an investigation revealed the cause of the accident. 

It wasn't a technical problem like radar malfunction or even thick fog. Instead, the cause was human stubbornness. Each captain knew the other ship's presence, and both could have steered clear. But neither captain wanted to give way to the other because each was too proud to yield. By the time they came to their senses, it was too late.

If you're a tough-minded, strong-willed, make-it-happen person, think about what you just read. If by winning the argument, you lose the relationship, what have you gained? If you save face but break trust and lose the connection, you end up in the loss column. 

In my opinion, this accident wasn't caused by stubbornness. A lack of self-control caused it. Each captain was stubborn, but they didn’t use their self-control to harness their self-determination. Could it be the only thing worse than not using self-control is wishing you had? Everyone has triggers caused by either their nature or nurture. Self-control is what channels our triggers to a more positive outcome. Remember, when you have your finger on your personal trigger - listen, consider, and yield to a constructive response. 

The Bible states that in the last days, humankind will be “without self-control.” (2 Timothy 3:1-3.) There is pressure from a thousand sources: media manipulation, out-of-control government spending, broken relationships, gun shootings, raunchier entertainment, and social media influence. Yet, we, the people, are already half numb by the perpetual coarsening of the culture. 

The net effect is a culture full of rage and fears much more incendiary than 'solutionary.' Many people devolve into what the Bible says the last days will be like, “every person does that which is right in their own eyes." Thus, the need for self-control benefits the person as well as society. When handling others, use your heart. When handling yourself, use your head. That’s called self-control. Could it be that our boasted "progress" has landed us not in Paradise but in pandemonium?

Author/speaker Lance Wallnau says, “Self-control may be the greatest distinguishing mark between those who walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, and those controlled by their own appetites. Without self-control, humans are likened to a city without walls: "Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down without walls." Proverbs 25:28. 

Lance says, "Imagine invisible walls protecting you, made from the substance of self-control. Self-control is the power that forms boundaries in your life. Self-control keeps in what you cherish and keeps out what is evil. Proverbs 16:32 describes it this way. “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”

By nature, some people are very disciplined, and others are not. Some people, like myself, are entrepreneurs by nature. They are hard-driving, stimulus-oriented people, but their work is driven more by passion than discipline. When the job gets boring, they move on to something else that engages them. These individuals often test low in self-control as an attribute.

Here are some quotes that capture the essence of self-control. 

“Of all possible success attributes, which one is the most powerful? Self-control is the master aptitude, for you multiply all others with this one strength alone.” 

“Self-centeredness and happiness do not go hand in hand.” 

“How shall I be able to rule over others when I have not full power and command over myself.” 

“Failure to hit the mark is never the fault of the target. To improve your aim, improve yourself.”

Did you know that self-control is a gift from God to us? 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For what the Spirit of God gives us does not make us timid but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” As a Christian, you and I have a godly Spirit within us that operates in power, love, and self-discipline, which is the essence of self-control. So, if you lack the aptitude for self-control, ask God for it.

Self-control is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…." So, if you have the Spirit of God, you have self-control available to you. Without self-control, there can be no love because God's love loves the unlovable. That takes self-control. We can't be joyful for long without self-control because we will suffer the consequences of our impulsive and foolish decisions. The same is true of peace. Without self-control, there can be no patience. The same is true for the other fruits of the Spirit. 

During my life, I have operated by Delph-control, which was a disaster. At this point in my life, I'm learning to use the fruit of self-control. The results are much better. 

Here’s your takeaway. Self-control is just controlling yourself (with the Holy Spirit's help). So, my advice in this article is to listen, consider, and yield.   


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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com