Guest Post: The Dangers of Significance by Award Winning Author, Adam Gellert
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”Psalm 139:23-24
Let’s start this blog with a quiz. Which of these four postures of relating to God is the right one:
A) Life Under God – God is happy or mad, depending on my performance.
B) Life Above God – My way is better than God’s.
C) Life From God – I want God’s benefits, but I’m not really interested in Him.
D) Life For God – I have a need to be significant and to do something great for God.
(Taken from the book, “With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God” by Skye Jethani)
When I was first asked this question in a training session I attended at my church, I knew the obvious answer was D. After being “activated” into more with God and experiencing incredible healing miracles, connections, and spiritual encounters, I was on fire for God. I was on a mission to tell everyone I knew about this amazing God, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit that had transformed my life, and I couldn’t wait to return the favor by doing important things for the Kingdom. I was going to be a general in His army, sharing the gospel and making God proud of me.
The problem is none of these postures are correct, even the desire to live a life for God. Because if I really searched my heart, I was motivated by what these significant accomplishments were going to do for ME, either in this earthly life or as a reward in heaven.
God’s greatest desire is just to be WITH us. And when you think about it from a parent’s perspective, it makes sense. If one of my sons asked me what he needed to do for me to love him more, I would quickly say, “Nothing, I already love you unconditionally.” If my kids spent their life feeling a need to do something significant to achieve my love, I would tell them they have it all wrong. If a flawed, earthly father feels this way, how much more does our perfect heavenly Father, who gave us his only Son to be with us for eternity?
The Four Stages of Spiritual Maturity
Pastor Robert Morris from Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, put it another way in a recent sermon. He talked about the four stages of spiritual maturity:
- Give Me
- Use Me
- Search Me
- Make Me
Our earliest stage of faith involves prayers that look more like wish lists. Our relationship may look like that of our young children, who from my own experience are constantly asking us to give them things they think they “need”. Even though the second stage, Use Me, may appear to come from the right place, this is the same stage mentioned above; we are asking God to use us so we can be significant, and have an impact that’s motivated more by selfish ambitions and desires. It’s only by moving to the stages of Search Me, and finally Make Me, that we learn to totally surrender to God’s will and direction for our lives, and realize that freedom comes from releasing ourselves from the pressure and human desires for significance and importance as a measure of success.
It’s also important to note that being at various stages of spiritual maturity is not an admonition that you are doing something wrong. I don’t criticize a two-year-old for what they do at that age; I just help guide them into maturity at their pace of development and do my part to accelerate their maturity where it’s needed. God’s view of where you are in your walk is no different – He wants to see that you are making an effort to grow in maturity, and will step in to guide you when it appears you need help.
It’s human nature to focus on ourselves, reinforced by the world’s view of having to do something important or significant to achieve success, to be liked or admired by others, or to have a following. Fortunately for us, we can be free of this pressure and released from the dangers of significance by surrendering to God, making Jesus the Lord of our lives, and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us into spiritual maturity. Chase after the heart of God, and you’ll find the only thing of real significance — relationship with Him.
“Make it count, leave a mark, build a name for yourselfFrom the song “Only Jesus” by Casting Crowns
Dream your dreams, chase your heart, above all else
Make a name the world remembers
But all an empty world can sell is empty dreams
I got lost in the light when it was up to me
To make a name the world remembers
But Jesus is the only name to remember
And I, I don’t want to leave a legacy
I don’t care if they remember me
— Adam Gellert
Adam Gellert is an award-winning author and blogger at AdamGellert.com. His book, “Activation: A Story of God’s Transforming Power,” won the 2016 Henri Christian Literary Award for Best Non-Fiction. “Let’s Get The Word Out! A Christian Book Marketing Guide,” was released in April 2017, and he released the second edition of his grandfather’s World War II memoirs, “Four Years: A Navy Medic’s World War II Memories” in May 2017. Finally, his first children’s book, “The Legend of Cypress River,” was released in June 2017, with a Spanish edition released in November 2017.
Adam also publishes a blog at ActivationMovement.com, and writes articles for Believer’s Bay Magazine and Secondly Magazine. He attends Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas and serves on the Freedom Ministry Team.