It All Depends On Me
Two weeks ago, I introduced a series on how to spot sneaky selfishness before it stops you (read that post here). Last week, we talked about sneaky selfishness number one: The thought that "I am not enough" (read that post here).
Today, we dive into sneaky selfishness number two: The thought that "It all depends on me"... This thought is the other side of the same coin, so to speak. On one side, there is a fear that you can’t measure up—that you are not enough; but on the other side is this fear that without your hustle, you'll never reach your destiny. I don’t know about you, but this thought that success or victory depends on me can either paralyze me into inaction OR blind me with pride. Both are clues that this is a sneaky form of selfishness.
It makes me think of a great king who was also a fierce warrior and commanded a great army. This king was wasn’t a perfect man, but he followed God wherever He directed him--it was said that he was a man after God’s own heart. His name was David. King David’s many conquests are recorded in the Bible, where it’s said the Lord gave David victory wherever he went.
Have you ever had a winning streak in life? You’ve had a taste of success or victory and you didn’t want to give that up for anything. That's not a bad thing...it’s a very good thing! But when we allow insecurity to creep in, we put a selfish spin on our victory. We begin to focus on what we can do to keep succeeding--how can I hustle harder, finish faster, get more followers--instead of trusting and giving credit where credit is due: the Lord.
This happened to King David. There are a couple of different accounts in the Old Testament that describe one moment where David began to take a count of his soldiers and things took a bad turn. It’s not that counting his soldiers was wrong, but his motives were. Instead of taking an honest inventory and praising God for providing a strong army for him, it seemed as if he was counting them out of either fear & insecurity (it’s up to my own efforts and resources to keep succeeding) or maybe just out of plain arrogance & bragging (look at what I can make happen). Either way, both of these are variables of the same attitude: it depends on ME. It made God very angry and the entire nation was punished because of it. Not long after that, David’s household began to crumble as his sons began to fight for the throne--at one point it got so bad, they chased David out of his own palace—even out of his own city--in fear for his life.
When I begin to depend on my own efforts, or even on accolades others have bestowed upon me, my insecurity begins to flare up like a bad case of heartburn. My focus shifts from the good that God is doing through me for the benefit of others and onto my own ego and what it does for me. This causes a hamster-wheel effect, where the desire to keep performing (in order to receive praises from others) causes me to constantly evaluate if my efforts are enough to get more praise from people--and 'round and 'round I go!
Contrast this with another famous leader in Judges chapter 6, who was instructed to count his army before battle--not to feel better about himself--but rather to REDUCE the amount of soldiers down to an impossible number. God wanted them to battle an army four hundred times their size with nothing more than clay pots, torches and trumpets. Why? Because God wanted Gideon to know without a shadow of doubt that the results of that battle did not depend on him or his abilities. God would receive all the credit, as He should!
Do we have a responsibility to do all we can do in hard situations? Absolutely. There is nothing wrong with knowing you are enough to do the work God has called you do to (refer back to point number ONE)—but humility recognizes that it's not because of your own effort!
God steps into the gap when we have reached the end of ourselves. This is where faith comes in—if we continue to believe that results depend on our own effort alone, we will only ever reach so far. But when we begin to have faith that God is working on our behalf, we can get out of our own way and watch Him work!
Ultimately, if God is calling me in a certain direction or to a specific task, the result doesn't depend on me, it depends on God. And I don’t know about you, but for me, that relieves a LOT of the pressure!
This week, reflect on the different areas of your life (work, relationships, projects, etc.) and honestly evaluate how much you depend on yourself instead of on the Lord. How can you begin to shift your focus? In what areas do you need to jump off the hamster-wheel?