Those of you who have taken a basic psychology course may remember a concept called locus of control. This is the extent to which people believe they have power or control over the events in their lives. With a brief personality assessment, you can be categorized as having an internal or external locus of control.
Internal Locus of Control
Internals believe they have control over the events in their lives. They are typically described as the strong, healthy ones – the “winners” in life. They are resilient problem solvers. When confronted with a challenge, they find a way to work around it. Some sample items for an internal locus of control include:
- In the end, your rewards will be directly related to what you accomplish.
- Disappointments are usually the result of mistakes you make.
- Political unrest and war normally occur in countries where people don’t get involved, or assert their political rights.
- To be successful in your career takes a lot of hard work and dedication, because effort is what makes the difference.
- The things that happen in your life are of your own doing.
External Locus of Control
Externals are viewed as weak because they do not depend on their own strength. They believe outside forces control their outcomes. As a result, they often feel helpless and hopeless when confronted with life’s obstacles. Some sample items for an external locus of control include:
- To become a leader, you must be in the right place at the right time.
- Bad luck is what leads to many of the disappointments in life.
- If something is meant to happen, it will; there is little you can do to change it.
- You don’t plan ahead or set goals because too much can happen that you can’t control.
- Life is like a game of chance. What you get or what happens to you is mostly a matter of fate.
The popular concept has been around since the 1950’s when it was introduced by Julian Rotter. The underlying question is this…do you control your life or does someone/something else control it?
Of course, the vast majority of the research suggests that it is healthier to be responsible for your own success and control your own outcomes. Our society encourages an internal locus of control. The theory doesn’t know what to do with intelligent and successful individuals who willingly place their trust in God to take over.
For many years, I took great pride in categorizing myself as an “internal.” Self-reliant and independent. It went against everything in me to relinquish control to somebody I couldn’t see. It felt foreign to allow someone else to be completely responsible for me and my life.
People who are self-sufficient believe it is a sign of weakness to depend on God. As humans with free will, we like to be in charge. The oldest temptation since the Garden of Eden is to be in control “like God.”
To grow as a disciple of Christ, you must break your independence and surrender your life to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. Are you willing to suffer the humiliation of being dependent on Him?