I hope I’m a lifelong learner. But there are some life-truths I wish I had learned years ago.
Take the idea of fixing people. Or saving them. It’s the same thing.
Here’s how it goes.
- Someone you know struggles with addictions, or relationships, or just life in general.
- You convince yourself that you have the power, time, and wisdom to solve their problem and alleviate their suffering.
- Whether invited or not, you start trying to fix it. Or to be honest, to fix them.
Where does this thought process come from? To put it simply, it comes from thinking too highly of yourself and too lowly of God. Whaaaaaaat? Let’s dig deeper.
When you think too highly of yourself, you think you can save people from their sins. Not in the sense of dying to redeem them – Jesus already did that. But in the sense of saving them from the consequence of their sins. Why? Because you don’t want them to suffer. Why? Because you think suffering is wrong. Why? Because you’ve suffered, and it’s no fun. Bottom line: Jesus saves people from the guilt of their sin, but you try to save them from the consequences.
When you think too lowly of God, it’s because you don’t like the way he lets others experience the painful effects of their bad decisions. So you try to help him. (Lucky God, what a helper he has in you.) But in the process, you undermine God’s plan of maturing people through trials. You also get people to depend on you rather than on him.
I’ve done this, more times that I can count. If you’ve done it, you know it’s a recipe for disaster. For everyone involved.
Let’s be encouraged by the words of a Scottish pastor, now deceased. Writing to all of us who think we are supposed to save others, he says:
Some meddling ministers want to sort everybody out (= fix everyone). There are some people who will die with mixed-up personalities, and they may be true believers. Don’t try to do the impossible … Know your limitations, and know what God is seeking to do in the world, and what part in it He wants you to play … Most people crack up because they try to do what God never intended them to do. (William Still)
If you think you’re supposed to save people, re-read that last paragraph. May it free you from the savior complex. You’re not Jesus. I’m not Jesus. Praise Jesus.
Thankful that the School of Discipleship is still in session, and that we can still learn, Paul