Are You in Charge?

I like to be in charge...sometimes.

I don't like to be in charge of a classroom full of 3-year-olds, a meal for over 12 people, a cabin full of preteens, or anyone else's dogs.

I do like to be in charge of my family's vacations plans, my Sunday afternoons, my kitchen, and the radio/IPod player in my car.

I don't like to be in charge of where we're going to dinner, unless the other people are voting for things like sushi, Weinerschnitzel, or Dairy Queen.

I do like to be in charge of the money, as long as I'm getting to choose how to spend it instead of how to save it.

Sometimes I'm really good at being in charge, like when I'm planning a party, leading a discussion group, or planning out menus for my family's meals.

Other times being in charge makes me shake in my boots, like when I lead a group on a hike, spearhead a group project, or ... try to control my emotions.

That's right. One of the hardest things to be in charge of, in my book, is my own emotions.

Do you agree?

The Bible teaches in Proverbs 16:32:

He who is slow to anger is
better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit 
than he who takes a city.

According to this pithy maxim, it's more important to be in full control of your spirit, your attitude, your demeanor, your temper...than to be in charge of a mighty army that storms a fortified city and takes control!

What does it mean to rule your spirit?

It doesn't mean that you never feel justifiably angry, devastatingly sad, a little green with envy, euphorically proud, or pleased as punch. Emotions sometimes pop up like unpredictable storms, like unexpected company. We're cruising along and then something happens out of the blue that makes us suddenly feel
But the Bible teaches that as Jesus followers we're not supposed to let any of these emotions rule us. We might feel the sudden impact of them, but then we are to temper them, sift through them for appropriateness and godliness, and let them know who is in charge.


No, the Holy Spirit.

If I walk by the flesh, I'm prone to allow my emotions to take charge and just go with them. That's when I say things I later regret, make faces that stick in peoples' minds, slam doors, walk with a strut in my stride, make poor decisions, and hurt other peoples' feelings.

But if I walk by the Spirit, letting Him be in control, in charge, then I'm more likely to feel those bursting emotions come under His calming influence.

I'm not the best at ruling my spirit, but I'm working on it. I think it's important. It's one of the ways we show our world what Jesus looks like. When we allow our emotions to take us on a roller coaster, our lives look just like the lives of those around an amusement park. Sometimes we're scary, sometimes we're laughable, and other times we're a little sickening. But when we rule our spirits by not allowing our emotions to get the best of us, we show the world what our God looks like.

He doesn't fall apart, snap peoples' heads off, make hasty decisions on a whim, or act out of jealousy or self-pity. He's consistent and He's good. I want people around me to know that. And that's why it's more important to rule over my spirit than to lead a mighty army.

Without the Holy Spirit, I'd be better at ruling a classroom full of 3-year-olds than trying to keep my wits about me amidst an emotional storm. But with the Holy Spirit in charge it's like having a seasoned preschool teacher running the show. I like being in charge, but I've found that if I really want to get things under control it's best to let Him call the shots.