“Strongholds of the mind have kept many of us on the sidelines.”
When I interviewed for the position I now hold at The River Church Community I remember being surrounded by so many accomplished people and thinking I was “not smart enough” for the position. Other staff persons had degrees from Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, and Cal Berkeley and the strongholds in my mind were saying. “You are not qualified!” The disqualifying voice in my head told me I didn’t have what it would take to succeed. The “spirit of deficiency” caused me to see myself in a small way during that process.
Here are some verses from The Message that might help you understand how I viewed myself for many years: 2 Corinthians 6:10,11, “Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!
That’s the “spirit of deficiency,” the fencing in is of our own doing. And for some of us it is a mindset that we’ve lived with for most of our lives. Our fathers failed to speak blessing and affirmation into that place within that was hungry for their powerful masculine voice. Truth be told, some of our father’s never received it so how could they give us what they did not receive? So we entered life trying to find that blessing in our achievements, our successes, our relationships with women, in our goodness and in being perfect.
In feeling small within, it felt like much of my life was a constant striving to prove myself to others. That mindset even influenced my relationship with God. Trying to prove to him that I was worthy of His love left me exhausted, I took on more service projects, disciplines, and opportunities to serve to impress Him. These were all good things but never brought me to a place of deeper intimacy with God or discovering my true potential in Him.
In the book of Daniel it says that the people who know their God will display strength and take action. The condition of that verse from Daniel is to know God. We have an enormous potential that is only limited by our perceptions. What hinders you from what I’ve just shared? Self-disqualifying, self-loathing, habitual patterns of sin, in this place you can’t see your potential. Instead of seeing yourself as one that is chosen, you see yourself as one that is forsaken. This kind of mindset distances us from truth.
Romans 8:33, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?” It is God who justifies.
I’ve often said, “I don’t need the devil to condemn me, I can do a pretty good job of it myself.” Those are the words of a person who is not “in Christ.” In Christ we understand there is no condemnation. In Christ, he breaks the power of those words that keep us sidelined and paralyzed. In Christ, we hear Him whisper words of life that destroy the lies of our past.
A.W. Tozer says, “The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority, rather, he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson. But he has stopped being fooled about himself. He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God has declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows that at the same time he is in the sight of God more important than angels.