What is it about the human spirit that wants to “go it alone?” There’s a certain quality to being able to do something without anyone else’s help. It’s self-reliant. It’s strength and power! How much greater is one warrior vs. an army when the warrior is last one standing? There’s a unique feeling that accompanies being able to stand alone against the challenges of the world. I love moments like those. They feel like victory!
The majority of my closest friends are these types of men. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve offered help to one of my friends and they’ve responded with, “Naw, man… I’ve got this!” That’s when things get interesting. If this phrase is uttered in a group of people everyone within hearing distance stops what they’re doing, turns and waits for the moment of truth. In the case of my friends and I, that moment is usually followed by an eruption of laughter.
I’ve seen friends drop heavy furniture on top of themselves, get crushed under heavy stacks of weights, electrocute themselves, break tools, fall off of unusually high places, take challenges they had no business taking and get lost in towns the size of Lindsey. I could be carpooling in a vehicle full of friends, clearly circling the town for the fourth time and the driver will still maintain, “I know exactly where I’m going!”
Taking on a task without help can produce glorious results, but on the flip side it could be utterly disastrous. I’ve experienced both results many times and it seems as though one thing constantly presents itself as the differentiating factor.
Allow me the following anecdote: A boy, about the age of 9, was recently asked to introduce himself to me while in the presence of other men. Shyly, with his head and eyes faced downward, he stated his name nearly inaudibly. Without hesitation, a respected member of the community and the boy’s grandfather corrected him saying, “This is not how you introduce yourself. Look up and say your name.” Something about the moment caught me off guard.
It wasn’t that the boy was corrected publicly. A trip to your local grocery will earn you that experience, although usually handled much less gracefully. It wasn’t that a grandfather, in place of a parent, was correcting the child. It was the authority with which the grandfather spoke as he corrected the child that struck me.
Everyone in the room that day recognized the grandfather as an authority. He knows what it means to be respected. He’s sacrificed for it. He’s earned it. He’s bled for it. He knows what it means to present himself as that kind of man. I fully expect that it’s that kind of man the grandson will become because his grandfather is established as an authority in the boy’s life.
In the absence of that kind of authority, what would the boy become?
I have yet to hear a story of a great warrior, who first didn’t learn from the authorities in his life. I have yet to hear of a great mathematician who hadn’t learned from the math authorities before him or her. Even stories of those few and glorious people who grew up in environments destitute of true authoritative leaders, yet grow into someone great, seek out authorities to follow through books, television and other media. It’s after following those authorities that they become the thing of legends.
The pattern is clear! The teacher stands as authority over the student, hoping that one day the student surpasses him or her. The chorus is repeated over and over again, “Give me an authority, so that I may become something greater than I am!”
Yet, when it comes to a person’s spiritual life, how many people choose to “go it alone?” How many people say to themselves, “I’ve got this!” but the results are utterly devastating instead of laughable? How many people choose to isolate their spiritual selves, and then design and redesign their faiths as needed? How many are like aspiring mathematicians concluding that 2 + 2 = 3… or 5… or 10… or whatever seems to fit at the time because no true authority had been set?
In the absence of a spiritual authority, what would they become?
I dare you to establish a spiritual authority in your life. I challenge you to look first at Jesus and see if He’s that kind of man. Then look at the Bible and see if it’s that kind of book. Finally, check out the church and despite her flaws, see if they aspire to be those kinds of people. Find out if, like the warrior standing tall amongst men, you have the spiritual strength to stand equally as tall against all that the world would throw at you.