by Jeannie Cunnion
I closed the door behind me, ensured it locked so my hotel room was secure, and I headed toward the elevator. I had a full day ahead of me so as I stepped off the elevator and into the bustling lobby, I went straight to the coffee bar because this girl needs her caffeine.
I had a few minutes to spare so I took a seat and checked my phone before walking to my car, and that’s when it happened. I got the “low-power mode” notification. This didn’t make any sense, since I charged my phone while I slept, but something must have gone wrong because the short yellow bar in the top right corner of my phone affirmed what I feared. My phone was close to shutting down and, until then, I’d be running on low power.
Most of us will do just about anything to avoid having to use our phone in low-power mode. I know I will! We’ll borrow a charger from a stranger or purchase a portable power stick at the store. Who wants low productivity with frustrating results? And yet, this is how many of us have become used to living the Christian life. In the yellow zone. Low power. Little productivity. Limited capability. Frustrating results.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to compare the low-power mode on our phones with the self-help approach to life.
In fact, it seems that one of the most creative tools of the enemy has been convincing us we don’t need the power of the very Person Jesus said would give us “everything we need for a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3 NIV). We’ve been tricked into operating in low-power mode, settling for helping ourselves rather than living a super-over-natural life.
In our desire to have more strength in our struggles and more control over our circumstances, we might listen to voices who swear the answer is found in striving to be the superheroes of our stories. We are encouraged to give ourselves pep talks about our own greatness, all for our own glory. All the while, Almighty God indwells us by His Spirit and is eager to empower us to fight our battles in His might for His name.
My intention isn’t to undermine the myriad of ways we can take intentional steps to grow, but the Spirit helps us like no superhero cape tied around our neck ever could. I mean, yes, it’s fun to flex our muscles, repeat a few affirming mantras, and drink out of mugs that tells us we’re boss babes, but that only gets us so far. It gets us somewhere we weren’t before, but only the honest will admit it’s not as far as we’d like to go. It’s not freedom from relying on the flesh to do what only the Spirt can accomplish. It's not freedom from the unbearable burden of fixing ourselves.
Of course, this isn’t an excuse to stop being intentional in taking steps to become more of who we were made to be. We know we cannot do nothing and expect something. This isn’t a challenge to call on the Holy Spirit, then kick up our feet and turn on Netflix and expect radical life change.
Rather, it’s an invitation to be freed from putting all our hope in ourselves. We have a greater help, a supernatural help. We have Spirit-help which is so much greater than self-help.
The best self-help strategy is admitting how much the self needs the Spirit for authentic, lasting, radical change. Self-reliance, self-confidence, self-love, self-anything falls short of what the Spirit can do. This is why Jesus said, “What gives life is God’s Spirit; human power is of no use at all” (John 6:63 GNT).
Maybe you’ve heard the expression “God helps those who help themselves.” The reason you won’t find a Bible verse attached to that quote is because it’s inconsistent with the gospel message. Here’s the gospel: God helps those who know how much help they need! All we bring is our need. All God needs to show off His power is someone who has come to the end of themselves and knows how powerless they are to produce change without Him.
Have you ever considered that the Spirit wants to do far more for you than even you want to do for you? It’s true. What He can do is far better, and the outcomes are far bigger, than what we can do on our own! (Eph 3:20)
So let’s stop settling for self-help when God has given us far superior Spirit-help to empower us to fight sin and strongholds, grow in His likeness, and exercise the unique gifts He’s given us, for His glory.
Jeannie Cunnion is an author who is well known for writing stories that make much of the wild love of Jesus because of how her life has been rescued by it. Her new book, Don’t Miss Out: Daring to Believe Life is Better with the Holy Spirit, is available now. Jeannie is also a beloved Bible teacher and sought-after speaker who has been featured on outlets such as the TODAY show, Fox News, The 700 Club, and Focus on the Family. Jeannie, who holds a master’s degree in social work, worked as a counselor and trainer in the adoption field before writing. She is a wife to Mike and a mama to five boys she is crazy about. Connect with her online at JeannieCunnion.com.