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February 9, 2023

The Self-made Man vs. The Spirit-led Man

Growing up with the last name “Self,” I was subjected to all kinds of ridicule and jokes at my expense.  They ranged from the tasteless to the creative.  A favorite joke among my friends took place every time one of them pulled into a gas station with a “self-service” sign.  Inevitably, the driver would look at me and say, “Hey Mike, pump my gas!”

Ha. Ha.

Of course, I would have missed out on such wit had I grown up in Oregon.

Sometime in high school, a few guys started calling me a “self-made man.”  I’d roll my eyes at this, but secretly I liked it.  I don’t think they were complementing me; they were just playing up the “self jokes.”  But I liked the idea of being a self-made man—a man who worked hard and made a name for himself.  Even though I had loving and supportive parents, I liked the idea that somehow it was “me against the world” and I was going to win. I was going to do it on my own.

I think that’s why I grew up liking Batman so much.  Not endowed with superpowers, he took a horrific tragedy–the death of his parents–and used it to fuel himself into becoming the ultimate superhero.  That’s right, I said it.  Batman is the ultimate superhero.  (Sorry, this is not up to debate in my book.)

And while I did work hard and made a name for myself in my little world, I realized over time that being a self-made man was a flawed goal.  It was incredibly self-serving and limited by my own abilities, grit and determination.

Grit and determination are great qualities to possess, but they are still lacking in power when compared to the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  What’s better than being a self-made man?  Being a Spirit-led man. 

I want to be a Spirit-led man!  A man in tune with the desires of my Heavenly Father through the leading of His Spirit within me.  What a gift!

I pray daily for the Spirit to direct me, to give me wisdom in all kinds of scenarios, to give me strength, to give me words, to give me discernment and to give me peace in trying circumstances.

I don’t want to quench, stifle, suppress or extinguish the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).  But I do when my priorities, goals, selfishness and sinfulness take center stage.

The self-made man might find success in this life, but it’s a worldly success, empty and hollow.

It’s nothing compared to the lasting, eternally significant, God-defined success born of the Spirit.

I want that kind of success.  I hope you do too.



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