King Canute, also known as Cnut the Great, ruled the North Sea Empire (modern day England, Norway, and Denmark) in the 11th Century. Beloved by his courtiers, he was often lauded as the supreme lord and ruler of the land. One day, the king grew tired of the incessant praise and asked his courtiers to place his throne by the shore during low tide. Then as the tide rose throughout the day, he proceeded to command the tide to stop rising and not to wet his feet and robe. When the tide disobeyed his commands and wet him, he stepped back and said to his courtiers: ‘Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.‘”
We can rule over somethings, but there are other things that we have no rule over.
We are spiritual beings endowed with power to rule. At the very beginning, we were empowered to rule all things except one another (Genesis 1:26 NKJV). Then we decided to give up our birth right and so lost power to rule just about all things but ourselves. Since that time early on in the history of mankind, man has been trying to get that power back – to control that which it lost power to control.
To complicate matters a little, though we lost power to rule, we did not lose power to steward (manage).
Finding spiritual balance is about knowing the difference between the things we have power to rule and the things we have power to steward. In his address to his courtiers, King Canute points out that the things we have rule over pales in comparison to that which we are called to manage. In the rising tide example, we no longer have rule over the tide, but we sure can steward or manage what we do with it.
Spiritual imbalance is trying to rule over what we have been empowered to steward and trying to steward what we have been empowered to rule
We have been empowered to rule our mind and body. We own them and so they are subject to our kingship. Yet sometimes we allow our mind and body to take over. We become a slave to them. This is tantamount to giving up the power we have to rule! When we stop ruling our mind and body is when our lives go out of control!
Practical Application: When your mind starts to think about things that you do not care about, tell your mind to stop it, and then engage your body to take tangible action to change what your mind is thinking about. Engaging your body may mean subjecting one of your five senses to something different. Walk somewhere, listen to something new, look somewhere else, squeeze a stress ball, or go outside and smell the flowers. Do something to change the trajectory of your thinking before it takes over.
Trying to rule what we have been called to manage is playing God. Since we are not God, it leads to high stress and disappointment with very little chance of continued of success. This can lead to unnecessary anxiety and depression
Can we manage our relationships, our future, our health, our finances? Sure we can! Can we rule over these things? No we cannot, since to rule over something means that we can guarantee the outcome. Therefore, we should not try to rule what you have been called to steward.
Now, the better stewards we become, the more likely we are to experience the outcome we desire. This gives us the impetus to become better stewards by acquiring knowledge, gaining understanding, and acting wisely. Thus, just because we cannot rule something does not mean we should give up on our stewardship.
Rule what you can and manage what you cannot rule
There are three rules I stick to when it comes to balance:
Rule 1: If the things I am anxious over are things I can manage, I don’t get depressed over them but start the journey to manage them better without marrying myself to an outcome (remember that you can’t guarantee an outcome as a steward).
Rule 2: If the things I am anxious over are things things that are in my sphere of rule, I stop allowing what I own to rule over me but learn to how to rule over them.
Rule 3: If the things I am anxious over are things I can neither rule nor manage, then I do not worry about them until they cross the threshold of rule or influence.
Do not fall into the trap that you have power over everything that happens. You know you do not.