We have come through a long, and well-developed, period of esteem building that hasn’t had the effect we’d hoped. It’s a good thing to be capable, to be strong, to be skilled but there’s a falseness to how we’ve promoted that. We’ve outstripped God himself with our motivational chants and as a result we have, and are, a people who do not recognize that we have settled for better when we could have had best. I’m convinced this is our biggest sin; not the things we do or say. I’m also convinced this keeps people away from the life-giving Jesus.
We have settled for words we hoped would build self-esteem and character but they have spiraled out of control inwardly until all that is left is the conflict of our own inner realities and our programmed ideas of how we SHOULD respond to life. It’s no wonder we are stressed. Inside we know our inadequacies and outside we forge onward based on these personal and cultural mantras we need to rethink:
Have it your way
You can do it
Take care of yourself
You deserve it
Love is never having to say you’re sorry
It’s the real thing
Be true to yourself
Believe in yourself
Feel good about yourself
I’m OK, you’re OK
From the day we’re born finding “the real me” is the task we set out on. Our messages over the years are many but they are not always correct or valuable. Sometimes they seem completely misleading. We are bombarded with basic tools for a reality of success, achievement and pride in our efforts. Those are good and worthy values but they are also part of our struggles.
The messages themselves are a part of the problem but so is our response to them. We need to become aware these motivational message have a downside; leading people to make self-sufficiency their god (with a little “g.”) But there is the big “God” to be considered. He is Sovereign. He is in charge. If we believe that, our quest becomes our opportunity to find ways to transform those messages of success, achievement and pride of accomplishment so they impact hearers in a world-changing way.
Our language of encouragement needs to be transformed from stress producing to stress reducing. No more motivating chants like “you can do it” when they haven’t a clue how, or “have it your way” when it’s obvious they don’t know what that way is. This is culture language that has left us bereft because our inner truth and “fake it ’til you make it” just leave us with a load of stress. We faked it and we didn’t make it; we couldn’t do it. Now what? When did “not getting my way” become failure? When did “need” become weakness? That seems like the biggest hurdle between searchers and Jesus’ promise of abundant life.