When I came up with the title of this article, I nearly changed it because I thought it might be too off-putting. I don’t want it to be misinterpreted. This isn’t some thinkpiece claiming that no one is responsible for their actions because it’s all someone else’s fault. And it isn’t a defeatist manifesto that’s going to tell you that our lives are pre-determined, so there’s no point in trying to change them. No, this article is something else. But to be honest, I’m still not sure that it’s going to be any less off-putting.
My central argument this week is simply this: We are not qualified to be in charge of our own lives.
As a recovering control freak myself, I can understand why some people may not like a statement like that. It’s scary, frustrating, and maybe even downright offensive at first. But it’s true, and if you stick with me, I hope you’ll see why.
We all like to think we’re in control. Like we’re the masters of our own destiny. Like we can change things if we want to. Growing up, we’re told, “You can be anything you want to be!” And we choose to believe it. Because at the end of the day, we don’t want anyone or anything else dictating what we do. We want to be our own bosses.
And this sort of attitude is praised in our culture. We idolize rugged, independent types who pave their own paths. We love hearing success stories of entrepreneurs who do whatever it takes to work for themselves. We buy into the American dream that anyone can choose to be anything if they’ll just put their minds to it and work hard. But what if this quest for independence and control is actually misguided?
After all, for every success story, there are at least a dozen that start the same way but end in failure. The truth is that our own judgment isn’t always the best, and when we try too hard to maintain control, we often get ourselves into some bad situations. Even the smartest among us can become blinded by passion to achieve a goal and end up losing everything in the pursuit.
We’re pretty good at declaring what we want, but we’re not so good at discerning whether or not those things are actually good for us. We set our sights on our desires and chase after them with little regard for our long-term wellbeing or the good of those around us. In all honesty, our success rate at choosing the things that are best for us is pretty low.
I’m sorry if this sounds pessimistic. I’m not trying to be. It’s just a reality of our fallen state. Our minds are wonderful gifts from God, but they’re also imperfect. And I think that if we each reflect on our own experiences with trying to make big life decisions on our own, we can agree that we don’t always make the best choices.
Which is why we’re not supposed to be making these sorts of decisions ourselves. We were never made to be in charge of our own lives because we aren’t qualified to be. We’re imperfect, and we make imperfect decisions that put is in bad spots and hurt those around us. Not all of the time, mind you, but enough of the time that we shouldn’t be the ones calling the shots.
The truth is that there’s only one person qualified to be in charge of our lives, and that’s God. He has a 100% success rate when it comes to making the right decisions. He sees the big picture. And he knows exactly what’s right for us even when we can’t see it. He alone has the right to set the path for our lives.
And if we recognize this, why wouldn’t we want to put God in charge? What could possibly hold us back from following his will for us other than our own pride? In reality, that’s the biggest thing standing between us and the perfect plan God has for us. We don’t like to give up control. But once we’re willing to recognize our own inadequacy and humble ourselves, we come to the conclusion that submitting to God’s will is the best thing we could do. Because he has the best in mind for us, even if it isn’t necessarily what we expect.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t encourage people to pursue their dreams or tell kids that they can be anything they put their minds to. We should. But we have to do so within the context of God’s will. Because left to our own devices, we get distracted and choose to chase after things that aren’t right for us. Things that aren’t good for us. Things that are outside of God’s plan for us. And that’s when we really get into trouble.
So let’s do ourselves a favor and just admit that we don’t need to be in charge. When we give control over to God, we’re taking the first step towards the wonderful life that he has in store for us. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that. Once you’re ready to follow God’s will, you have to actually figure out what that is, and we’ll get into that next week. But if you find yourself ready to give up on blazing your own path and follow God’s, then congratulations! You’re well on your way.
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