I don’t know about you, but I am not the person I want to be…yet. I have traveled the world and gotten several degrees. I have written books and been on TV. I have planted a church and started a family and yet I am still not perfect. I’m not the person I hope my kids think I am. I have fears and internal contradictions. As a Christian, my model is Jesus and yet I fail everyday to be just like Him. I realize I’m not alone.
I’ve seen studies that show that the average person lies 2-3 times a day. Most of those lies are committed to help us look better than we are. Some studies show that as many as 85% of people struggle with low self esteem. Other studies reveal an unhealthy amount of stress, fear, anger and directionless in America. We aren’t perfect. In fact we have a slogan that says “I’m only Human.” We are not perfect and yet, most of us want to be better than we are…if we’re honest. But where do we look for help? How can we grow?
In the past, my natural tendency is to try and make myself better. Read more books, be smarter, work harder and things will work out in the end. However, in my experience that never works…not fully.
In the past few years I have found that there has only been one real solution to helping me grow myself and that is to stop looking to self. Rather than look to myself, I look to Jesus. I don’t look within myself to love others I look to the love Jesus shows in the Gospels. I don’t look to my circumstances for joy or peace, but the hope I have in Jesus. I don’t have patience for people simply due to willing myself to do it…I see the patience Jesus has had for me and this humbles my pride and this opens the door for the patience of God to enter my life.
If you are like me and you want to grow, than we need to stop looking to self and look to Jesus.
Jesus tells us (John 15:5) that if we are to ever have true love, joy, peace, self control, patience; than we have to abide or remain in Him. And apart from us being in a true honest relationship with Him than we can never do anything of real significance. This means that we can’t grow or improve without a daily, honest relationship with Jesus. Self-help books can’t do it, workout plans, and therapy can’t do it. Trying harder won’t do it. These aren’t bad thing…they simply are unable to solve the issues alone. This is if you trust Jesus.
Perhaps, I will write more about this in the future, but for now, I’d like to share one of the ways I do “abide” or “remain” in Jesus. Nearly every morning, I read the Bible and I pray. I usually start off my prayers with the prayer below. I wrote this prayer in a season when I discovered I needed God far more than I ever realized. When you are “works based” and your identity is on success, it is easy to hide behind degrees, and a list of accomplishments to say, “Hey, look at me, I’m okay.” When in reality, I was far more flawed than I knew.
I am Not perfect yet, but I am a much more loving person than I once was. I haven’t arrived, but I have more patience, more joy, more peace than ever. This isn’t because I did it on my own, but because I have spent far more time with God and His Word. After a while, most people begin to act like those they spend the most time with…and the more time I spend in God’s Word, the more I act like Him.
Before I pray, I nearly always quote John 15:5 as a reminder that I can’t do anything of significance without remaining close to Jesus.
John 15:5 (ESV)
5 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.
Lord, please grow the fruit of your spirit in my life. Give me your love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control, and patience. I want to be more like you and I am not there yet.
Today I ask that your Holy Spirit will…
…fill my mind and guide and renew my thoughts
…fill my heart and guide and renew my emotions
…fill my mouth and guide and renew the words I speak
…fill my gut and guide and renew my appetites
…fill my will and guide and renew my behavior
…fill my personality and guide and renew my temperament
…fill my body and guide and renew my physical health
…fill my eyes to guide and renew how I see things
…fill my ears to guide and renew how I hear things
Help me to be a loving & faithful husband
Help me to be a loving & wise father
Help me to be an effective leader of integrity
Help me to be A healthy man…
…Healthy physically, emotionally, psychologically, mentally, financially, relationally, and theologically.
God, you are worthy, I am flawed, Thank you for your grace & mercy. Help me to be more like you and closer to you. In Jesus Name, Amen.
(c) 2010 Dr. Jayce O’Neal