Self-help books are a prominent part of the American culture. I wish that I could cynically make fun of them to the degree that I would like to at times, but I cannot deny my occasionally glancing into one at the bookstore. Titles such as, “How to Lose 20 lbs in 2 weeks” (I’m making up the title) grab the attention of the generally overweight American population quickly; I’d be among the ranks of individuals that would love a quick-fix to an issue that likely has deeper roots than that. So, where am I going with this? (Excellent question!)
I’d like to give you a brief two-part lesson on what the LORD has been teaching me over the past few weeks…
Arguably, we should not attempt to fix ourselves by ourselves. We desperately need community with other Christians. Particularly for men in the Western hemisphere, it is seen as particularly unmanly to be in need of help, or to admit shortcomings in such a way that place us in a reliant state. Obviously, men should seek to become independent and able to lead a woman and family, according to the LORD’s will. But when it comes to matters of the heart, sin, lifestyle, and the general pursuit of holiness; there is no way to obtain it without admitting our need for help from other brothers in Christ to come alongside us in our pursuit of the Father.
Running is not my forte. But I’ve trained before. The reality is that you can run a lot further, longer, faster, and harder routes when you have someone running alongside you. You have the comfort of knowing someone else is enduring and overcoming with you. You are not alone.
You are what you claim to be. Identifying yourself with a certain negative characteristic is paramount to giving the enemy control of that area of your life. Essentially, you are giving Satan permission to continue taunting you, pointing out your every flaw, leaving you in a state of hopelessness that will continue to persist until you call out the lies. Allow me to further illustrate this by giving an example from my personal life. A deep calling that I have felt placed upon my life is to be a confident and competent leader. Many have assured me of my competence, which is certainly appreciated, but what they cannot affirm for me is my own confidence (that is pretty much my end of the bargain to uphold). Why is this an issue? Well, I begin to use statements like, “I’m just not a confident guy”, “I cannot see myself being good enough in this position of leadership”, etc. While I may feel a general lack of confidence at the time, making such a declaration, as “I am not confident”, leads to solidifying that truth in my heart and perpetuating the effects of that becoming a reality.
What is the lie that lies within your heart currently? Is it that you are not good enough? Is it that you are not beautiful/desirable? Is it that you cannot overcome [insert any and every obstacle here]? Friends, you may feel this way currently but that does not mean that is your identify. Refuse to identify with such a negative construct of reality. You are so much more than you realize and you are certainly not a failure. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future,nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 37-39, bold lettering mine)
Now that you know who you are (more than conquerors), it is time to place such thoughts into action. The issue here will lie in your nature tendency to believe what you have always been taught; that you can do it on your own. “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” is something you may have heard your grandfather say and while you should certainly not sit idle, you will need others. It is prideful for one to think they can live out their faith without the help of other brothers and sisters in the faith coming alongside them and lifting them up in their times of need from time-to-time. That reality plays a role in their lives as well and if you are willing to admit your need, then they will be much more likely to feel comfortable admitting their heartbreaks and needs as well, leading to a deeply intertwined and Christ-centered community forming that can truly call itself The Church and make a monumental impact in each other’s lives and among those that witness their faiths.
In conclusion, you are not to walk out your faith alone. Community is absolutely critical and being reminded of this truth is just as important. We are a forgetful people. In the same regard, you are what you claim to be. You choose what reality becomes empowered; discontinue agreeing with the lies and replace it with truth from Scripture. Therefore, I am not a man lacking confidence. That is not who I am. I am a confident and competent man, created by the LORD to impact the lives of others via exhortation, encouragement, prayer, and writing/speaking in ways that reveal a transparent heart, willing to disclose all, that others may meet the King.
Who are you? You are now empowered by truth. Walk into it.