Yesterday, I brought up the idea of internal vs. external locus of control. I mentioned how both ideas are based on a basically materialistic mindset, and that neither truly addresses a Biblical worldview.
So today, I want to take a few minutes to spell out an alternative stance.
A Third Type of Stance: Superior Locus of Control
A possible third approach to the question of locus of control is something I will call a superior locus of control (and I’m using this term in the sense of proximity, not quality–though I think that applies). To put it more visually: rather than being inside me, or outside me at my level, this locus of control is above me.
A superior locus of control recognizes that there are certainly things outside of my individual power that can affect and even dominate my life. However, rather than these forces being indifferent or malevolent, all external influencers are subject to the sovereignty of a benevolent God who has changed me from being His one-time enemy into His adopted son through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus, which cleanses me of sin and satisfies God’s wrath against me. As a born-again Christian, I don’t believe that God is a far-off capricious deity or a semi-involved external equalizer. Rather, I relate to God as a son to a loving Father, believing that all circumstances of life are directed/superintended according to His purposes and plans. Because of this, I’m not the victim of blind chance or the pawn of cruel fate–I am living within my Father’s world, and the details of that world are guided by an omnipotent, omniscient, and ultimately benevolent King.
Does the sovereignty of God constrain me? No, it actually frees me. It allows me to function with the knowledge that I do not have to live in fear of outside forces destroying my life, and it helps me to cope with disappointment and tragedy through the knowledge that even the darkest moments of my life will serve to glorify God and make me more like Jesus Christ, which is my ultimate good. I am therefore free to live boldly (even in ordinary ways) without the crippling worry of being responsible for everything in my life going the right way. I can take up the tasks at hand, plan for the future, and trust that no matter what happens, I am secure in Christ.
Does this sovereignty instead let me off the hook? Not at all. Just because God is in control of all things doesn’t mean I am not responsible for my own actions or for the responsibilities which He has apportioned to me. I cannot be like those Thessalonians who became lazy and apathetic because they believed the return of Christ was days away. Rather, I have been entrusted with a family to provide for and protect, relationships to nurture, and work to accomplish. These are good works prepared in advance by my Father that I may walk in them, and thus complete my mission to proclaim the Gospel and do good works in the world that give my God glory.
This is what I think was missing from Dave Ramsey’s video: he leaned hard into an interior locus of control, without acknowledging that “if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” I don’t think he would necessarily deny this, but I think it needs to be said, and it needs to be said repeatedly, given our tendency toward humanistic self-sufficiency without acknowledgement of God’s involvement and direction.
In summary, I think the idea of superior locus of control is a better way to understand the spiritual reality of God’s sovereign provision and care for my life, while still accounting for my personal responsibility to take seriously the calling of God to live as salt and light in the world.
Your Turn: Does the idea of “superior locus of control” present a better alternative when it comes to our motivational stance as individuals? Is there anything I’m not accounting for? I’d love to discuss this with you in the comments.