Explore
Follow Us

Order vs. Control

So, we chose not to ban smartphones on the World Race. Why is that? They have such potential to interrupt what God is doing during the course of a year abroad. Why not ban them? It has to do with the issue of order vs. control. What is that distinction? Let’s look at an example from our judicial…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

So, we chose not to ban smartphones on the World Race. Why is that? They have such potential to interrupt what God is doing during the course of a year abroad. Why not ban them?

It has to do with the issue of order vs. control. What is that distinction? Let’s look at an example from our judicial system.

“Order in the court,” the bailiff shouted when the audience responded noisily to the judge’s verdict. The court had certain rules and protocols that kept it moving in an orderly fashion. One of the protocols governed who could speak and when they could speak. 

The bailiff didn’t appeal for control. He could have asked the armed guard to point his pistol. Rather, he asked the audience to self-govern. Control is enforced by those with power in the moment. Order is established by design in advance.

So many young people have felt controlled for much of their lives. Understanding this, as I disciple young people, my preference is to help them choose their own course in life. The smartphone issue was an example of that.

It would have been easiest to simply say, “Don’t take the smartphones.” But that is control. Much better to focus on establishing a process whereby they can learn to self-govern, choosing for themselves and then living with the consequences.

In top down, control–based systems, rules are paramount. Decisions are predetermined at a high level and cascade downwards. In an order-based system, relationships and protocols govern the decision-making process.

The leader whose motive is control memorizes rules and under pressure, defaults to positional authority. The order-focused leader looks at design and asks if relationships are in alignment.

Organizations seeking to empower and grow their people will hire and develop leaders who’s motive is order rather than control. They will help their leaders to understand the big picture and to lead by nurturing relationships, checking for alignment.

When the leader sees an alignment issue, he or she will consult the protocols or check with a more experienced colleague to gain wisdom in their application.

Organizations seeking to maximize freedom will spend substantial time training and certifying before vesting operational authority. Pressure testing to understand a leader’s motivated default helps ensure that leadership is part of design.

Comments (2)

  • Leaders are revealed by the followers walking behind them. Managers tend to dictate from positions of power. Positional authority demands (have to do it) action from position, relational authority draws action of followers out of choice (want to do it).
    All very similar to works to earn salvation vs. actions to please God.
    Heart is what matters.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Radical Living:

Receive updates on the latest posts as Seth Barnes covers many topics like spiritual formation, what if means to be a christian, how to pray, and more. Radical Living blog is all about a call to excellence in ministry, church, and leadership -as the hands and feet of Jesus.

Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



© Adventures In Missions. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy