Created for Covering: Covering vs. Controlling

Created for Covering: Covering vs. Controlling


Robert Shaw, D.Min.



Excerpted with permission from Created for Covering: Understanding the Concept of Safety and Covering in Relationships for Men and Women.



Over the years, I have had several men come to me saying what amounts to this: “My wife has been asking me to lead the family and take care of things.  But often when I do, I am told that I am too controlling!  What’s the deal?”  These guys were in, what is called in counseling, a double bind, or in the vernacular, burned if they did and burned if they didn’t.  One of the greatest paradoxes in marriage is a wife’s desire to have her husband lead her, and her unwillingness to follow him when does (Slatttery, 2001).  Over the last 40-50 years, our society has been subtly and insidiously dealt a bill of goods that today has placed men and women in such gender confusion that the roles we play are all over the charts.  Feminism, homosexuality, abuse, and fatherlessness in particular have rendered the male gender weak and confused. One the other hand, the message has become, “I can be independent”, “live a life with no restraints” and “I can have it all”.

I have counseled many young people, college-aged through mid-twenties men and women, who have expressed gender confusion in their sexuality and in their role relationships, which is troubling.   I have found that women and, men especially, have not been properly equipped to deal with the stresses of life, mainly because of (1) abuses or (2) they have not experienced a proper covering, model and influence in their early life.  Our society has become so self-centered or self-oriented, (this includes many parents), that we are no longer considerate of others and we no longer know how to be subordinate and respectful to others.  The essence of this crisis is the debate of who is in control.

military-662863_640Being under a covering is not the same as being controlled.  In like manner, being a coverer is not a sanction to be controlling.  There is a subtle, yet important difference.  The definition of control when used as a verb is to “exercise authority over as to dominate”.  The word control in the noun form is “dominion”, “mastery”, “rule” or “govern”.  Other synonyms are to impose, which means to force upon another or to take unfair advantage over another, or to dictate, which means to prescribe or demand with authority.  It is very clear in Scripture that Adam and Eve were to take dominion or control over creation together, not take dominion over each other (Gen. 1:27-28)!  We are also taught to take mastery over sin in our lives (Rom. 6:12, 14).   In contrast, as shown in an earlier chapter, to cover is to be over someone or something as to protect, to defend, to guide or to provide purpose.  Life to a controller is about him, while to a coverer, it is all about those for whom he is responsible.  Controllers are self-centered and bring harm and hurt.  Coverers provide safety, security, and direction.



In the book, Avoiding Mr. Wrong (And What To Do If You Didn’t), by Stephen Arterburn and Meg Rinck, there is an excellent list of the characteristics of a controller.  A controlling person:

  • Is critical, negative and mean most of the time
  • Is easily irritated over small things
  • Tends to be stubborn and unteachable
  • Says “it’s my way or the highway”
  • Does not deviate – likes established ways of doing things
  • Will tell you always when they disagree with you, or does not like something that you are doing
  • Uses “black or white” or “all or nothing” thinking
  • Is closed minded; other options are not considered
  • Is imperative, demanding and intense
  • Chooses “doing things right” over relationships
  • Is very disciplined, to a fault
  • Sets very high standards for self and others
  • Seems driven in everything they do
  • Gets irritated and angry when others mess up
  • Takes other people’s failures as personal insults
  • Is uncomfortable with emotions – his and yours
  • Holds the need to dominate, be in control, have the last word, as more important than relationships
  • Is resentful and often bitter
  • Is probably much more insecure than they appear
  • Values people, only based on how similar they are to him
  • Attracts a strange group of compliant people in his relationships
  • Does not do the work, but tells you how and when and what ought to be done
  • Looks down on women and girls


Often, in reality, a controlling person is very insecure.  They are in fact driven by fear.  Their fear of being ridiculed, rejected and hurt drives them to be sure they are the aggressor, which serves as a defense mechanism.  They are often cowards when pushed.

w9uljjwg2fa-michal-parzuchowskiWhen parents plant seeds of rejection or failure in their children, these young people may grow up to be controllers.  The lie they believe is that no matter what they do, they can never measure up or be acceptable.  The result can be a response where the individual attempts to feel in control over something, and will try to control others as a way to prevent further hurt and pain.

Individuals who are victims of a controller, believe they are without power.  However, the truth is if an individual were to challenge a controller, the controller often backs down.  The lie is that a controller is in control, when in truth he is out of control, lives under false beliefs, and needs counseling and a healing and settling touch from God!



Want to read more? Purchase Created for Covering here!



shaw_robertDr. Robert B. Shaw, Jr. is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor in both Virginia and North Carolina. He works at the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) in Forest, VA in professional development and as membership divisions director. Dr. Shaw is an adjunct professor at Liberty University and a Clinical Trainer for graduate counseling intensives. He is also an ordained minister, serving as an elder and executive pastor in churches for over 25 years. He has also been a middle school and high school teacher and athletic coach in both the public and private school environments. Dr. Shaw spent several years counseling military personnel and their families near FT. Bragg, NC and specializes in abuse and trauma related issues, addictions, depression, anxiety disorders, life adjustment issues, loss and grief, counseling church leaders and pastors, and adolescents and adults. Dr. Shaw has a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies from Wagner College, New York where he attended on an athletic scholarship in track & field; a Master of Divinity Degree from Christian International Theological School, Florida; a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Liberty University, Virginia; and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Formational Counseling, from Ashland Theological Seminary, Ohio. Dr. Shaw is a National Board Certified Counselor (NBCC), and a Board Certified Professional and Pastoral Counselor (BCPPC). Dr. Shaw and his wife, Lorinda, a registered nurse, have been married since 1978, and have five children together and six grandchildren. He enjoys running, the beach, sports, music, traveling to historical sites, and spending time with family.