Too often, we are our worst critics, condemning ourselves more harshly than others do, and dismissing our strong points as nothing special. That tendency is satanic and keeps us from being more productive.
OUR WORST CRITIC
I HAVE TO ADMIT IT, I often heap abuse on myself for failing to be *perfect,* even when I *know* (i.e., have mental knowledge) that perfection is beyond human reach.
I’m not alone in this regard. According to the Myers-Briggs personality profile, my profile type (INTJ) is more likely than other profile types to be self-abusive. We strive for perfection and demand accountability in others.
There is help, but in our (my) human pride, we tend to glaze over it, preferring to focus on the achievements of others and our tendency to underperform, at least by our own standards.
The Bible tells us — if we’ll let it speak to us — that we are helpless without the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit. Here are some examples:
- But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose. Yet I leave it all in the LORD’s hand; I will trust God for my reward. — Isaiah 49:4 (NLT)
- Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of. But don’t compare yourself with others. We each must carry our own load. — Galatians 4-5 (CEV)
- “If any remain in me and I remain in them, they produce much fruit. But without Me they can do nothing.” — John 15:5 (NET)
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
THE PROBLEM IS THIS: When we listen to the voice of the Evil One, we ignore the voice of the Holy Spirit. The Evil One will cause us to doubt God’s goodness, His love for us, His caring touch.
Instead, like Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3), we’ll convince ourselves that God does not have our best interests in mind and that, just perhaps, He’s “holding out on us.” Therefore, we reason, we must “follow your bliss,” as mythologist Joseph Campbell taught and, like Cream sang in Strange Brew, “do what’s inside of you.”
Then, we get into trouble.
With God’s help, we can change that dynamic.
HERE’S AN EXAMPLE
Recently, I wrote about following my dream (LoveAndGrace). I wanted to use the skills, training, and experience of being a newspaper reporter (journalist) to write novel-length fiction, creating characters and dialogue and movement and setting and storyline — all the things I was doing at work when reporting on real-life events.
I wrote about having started — and stopped — writing three novels. Two years ago, I began diligently to complete them. Since then, I’ve edited them severely — shrinking them to 85,000 words each and, more importantly, reflecting the Christian values I’ve come to embrace in the last decade as a born-again believer.
Okay, in this example, I am glad I had not finished the novels beforehand, because I would not want my pre-Christian heart and soul made public. Now, when I publish the novels, they’ll reflect the new creature God has created in me.
The point I’m making is that it only has been very recently that I’ve felt the self-confidence God wants me to experience so that I could complete the novels and contemplate writing more.
Being my inner critic prevented me from completing any of the novels. I just stared at them on my computer’s hard-drive.
WHAT CHANGED FOR ME is that God has given me a spirit of courage, replacing my spirit of fear. I am now willing to embrace my dream and go after a calling, unafraid of temporal rejection or lack of applause.
- For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead, his Spirit fills us with power, love, and self-control. — 2 Timothy 1:7 (GNT)
- So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” — Hebrews 13:6 (NKJV)
I would like to say that this change in me came suddenly as the Holy Spirit entered my heart; but the truth is, this has been part of His sanctification process in slowly and methodically bringing me closer to Him. Also, the Lord has used the testimony of some dear brothers to speak this truth into my life.
But, wait! There I go again. The gift came from God, and I’m trying to grab credit for it, wishing I had come to this realization myself, by myself, on my own, and … apparently … for myself.
Not anymore. I want to embrace the new reality: God has transformed me and brought me into His embrace in His timing for His purpose.
This is what He tells me (and you):
- PROVERBS 3:5-6 (NIV): “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
- 1 PETER 2:9 (NKJV): “But you [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
With those promises of God, how can we ever doubt His goodness toward us and therefore … in Him … our own worth as people of God?
FATHER GOD, We thank You for Your everlasting kindness, Your patience, and Your willingness to teach us how to be faithful and obedient sons and daughters of the King. All blessing, honor, and glory are Yours, O Lord, from everlasting to everlasting. AMEN and AMEN