Maybe the marketing approach of “Believe in yourself” or “Jesus came to make you a better version of yourself” has benefits, but the scriptures tell us a different story. In our best version, God’s narrative tells us that people are prideful, reliant on their achievements, defiant with their knowledge, and directly opposed to God’s nature.
Jesus offered us His growth strategy in saying learn from Me, for I am “meek and lowly in heart.” (Matthew 11:29) Jesus also revealed God’s response to our success-driven mantras. He said, “For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination (detestable) in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15)
The pursuit and accomplishment of goals without complete reliance on God’s work through our thoughts and behaviors will lead to a sense of personal achievement. An achievement feeling that God detests.
Re-read those last two statements.
If you figure out how to make a good life for yourself that excludes the daily practice of hearing God’s voice, then you’ve failed at the one thing you were created for – a relationship with Jesus.
For example, if one feels they have a great marriage because they can live free of their spouse’s daily involvement, we would say that man or woman is missing the point of marriage. In the same way, living successfully without God’s daily involvement means you’re missing the point of living.
As G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves? For I can tell you. I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar. I know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success. I can guide you to the thrones of the Super-men. The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.” If your belief and confidence are built on your wisdom, mental stamina, or personality strengths, these foundational hopes will fail you. Confidence in obeying the daily guidance of Jesus is the only pathway to finding “rest for your soul.” (Matthew 11:29).