Self-reliance is self-deception

by | Jul 10, 2013 | Business, Discipleship, Life

your own bootstraps


I grew up being taught (at least by example) the idea of self-reliance. I have a Mom and Dad who are hard working, blue-collar, self-made people in many ways. I have learned a ton from their great example.

So please understand right here at the outset… I’m all for the “kick yourself in the behind and get it done” sort of initiative that it takes to succeed in life or business. It even follows along the line of biblical teaching in some ways.

Too often I have deceived myself into buying all the lines the world has tried to feed me…

“If it is to be, it is up to me.”

“You can do anything you set your mind to.”

“You can be whatever you want to be in life.”

“The only thing holding you back, is you.”

“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…”

“What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

While I understand the motive behind all of these kinds of statements, there is a fundamental flaw in all of them.


and that is the most tragic and fatal error that a person could make.

I have come to see that self-reliance is a lie.

There is very little in this life that I can truly be entirely self-reliant about. That’s because in the end, I need God’s guidance, help, and empowerment to carry out anything that I would consider worthwhile.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.John 15:5

That is a FOUNDATIONAL MINDSET that I have to get in place BEFORE I try to work on anything with the kind of diligence my parents modeled to me. If I don’t get that way of thinking in place first, I will wear myself out with efforts to accomplish, achieve, etc. and be producing NOTHING of eternal significance.

It’s like math (and I really, REALLY dislike math)…

math mistake

When I was in Jr. High and High School I truly disliked math. I became unglued when a mistake I made at the very beginning of a problem caused me to miss the answer entirely. I didn’t like it (and still don’t) but that’s the nature of how math works.

The same is true of how you and I think of self-reliance.

If I buy what our culture tells us and believe that my success is entirely up to me, I’ve missed something at the very beginning of the equation… and it is something VITAL to getting to the right outcome. I’ve missed God, the ARCHITECT and GUIDE of my life. I have no hope of EVER getting to the right results (in life or business or parenting or whatever) if I leave Him out of the equation. To stick with the math analogy, my answer will always, Always, ALWAYS be wrong.

How to break this kind of self-deception

1. Identify the lies you’ve been believing (the list from above may be a good start).

2. Tweak them until they come into line with the truth of what God has revealed about your participation in His plans.

Here are some examples:

“If it is to be, it is up to God and me.”

“You can do anything God equips and calls you to do.”

“You can be whatever God wants you to be in life.”

“The only thing holding you back, is your inability to trust God and His plan.”

“I know God can, I know God can, I know God can…”

“What the LORD can conceive HE can achieve.”

3. Learn to rely on Him more and more each day.

4. Set your mind to discover and immerse yourself in HIS plans for your life. He’s revealed the majority of what you need to know in His word.

Get to work… knowing that His calling IS His enabling.

Tell me how you’ve deceived yourself over the years and how you’ve learned to overcome it