Teachable Moments

Don’t Try Harder!

Do you want to really discourage yourself?  Then buy motivational prints that give really bad advice.  Here are some of my favorite ones to hate:

  • Second Place is being a First Place Loser (really, you couldn’t just let me lose – you had to make me feel even worse about it?)
  • It’s Not Over Until You Win (ridiculous – if you can’t enjoy the journey to your destination, then it seems a bit of a waste of life to me.)
  • Success means to Exceed Everyone’s Expectations Always (this is an outrageous goal – it’s a one way ticket to setting ourselves up for disappointing everyone we know)
  • Here’s how I’m going to beat you – I’m going to outwork you.  That’s all there is to winning. (Really?  Talent, planning, strategy and how about prayer?  None of these matter? Yeesh!)
  • If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete. (Well I wish I would have known about this in High School – I would have been able to sit out gym class.)

And I think out of all the bad advice about how to live can be summed up in this one quote you can buy online and hang it on your wall, 

“Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, you should try harder”

Here’s my advice – don’t take the above advice.  And definitely do not try harder!

Winning, competing, and trying harder all lead us to focus on ourselves and picture others as opposition.  We can end up being prideful of our abilities and talents; we trust our own efforts. We are on a slippery slope toward arrogance.  

While these quotes are “popular” and are intended to motivate, they accomplish the opposite of what a Christian Disciple should be motivated to become or to do.  Stay away from such poor guidance.

A Christian Disciple does not try harder, but rather they become less self-reliant and more Spirit reliant.  Scripture is clear that we are not to rely on our own efforts, but rather rest in the effort of God on our behalf.  Our faith is in Him alone.

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (Prov. 3:5)
  • It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (John 6:63)
  • Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 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 15:4-5)
  • I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)

Next time you want to try harder to do the right thing such as fight temptation or grow in wisdom – stop.  Don’t try harder in what you are doing. Stop – tell God you trust Him, you need Him and you will rely on His Spirit.  Ask Him to fill you and give you the wisdom and strength you need to accomplish whatever it is you need to do.   

As our children grow in faith, how can we help them be reliant upon God?  First, they need to see it in us before they will ever try it for themselves.  Show them how to walk with God. Second, pray with them, asking God to fill you both and to give you His strength and wisdom.  Pray with reliance upon Him. Third, read God’s promises.  Meditate and memorize them.  Fourth, rejoice!  When we rely on Him, we see His Word come to life in ours.

Dear Reader, as you walk as a Christian Disciple, following God and as you do so, becoming transformed into His image, remember that your journey of faith must be Spirit-filled and Spirit-reliant.  His power is what we need, not our own.

May you be completely reliant on God this week – may you try less hard and find God more faithful.

Fondly yours always, Elizabeth