The Myth of Self-Reliance

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. 7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. 8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:5-8

Are we really self-reliant? Are we really self-made? There’s a myth, which has been circulated for generations extolling the virtues of self-reliance. The only problem with this teaching is that it’s a myth. There’s absolutely no truth to it. There are no self-made and self-reliant people. Regardless of our self-esteem or ego, we are all inter-connected and decidedly dependent on others for our position and success. You many consider yourself self-reliant, self-made, and independent, but don’t fool yourself. Remember, you’re not two years old anymore and passionate about demonstrating your self-proclaimed independence. It’s not about “me” do it any more. You never were; you never will be.

Don’t deceive yourself with this myth. New college grads get a first job, move into a first apartment, and buy a new car. Wow, this feeling of independence and self-reliance is intoxicating. You think you’re independent, but your not. You are dependent upon your employer, your education, and your landlord just to name a few. One day, in pursuit of greater self-reliance, you start out on your own as a self-employed proprietor. Here’s where the “feeling” of self-reliance can really fool you. You’re not independent. You’re dependent on customers, product, production, and employees, just to name a few. Retired? Certainly you’re self-reliant by now. Nope, you’re now more dependent than ever. You rely on retirement fund performance, social security, Medicare, and so much more. So in the pursuit of self-reliance, you decide to move to a one-man island. Surely, this is self-reliance. Unfortunately, you’re wrong again. For starters, you’re dependent upon the rain to mature your fields and the soil to produce your crops.

I think you get the point. We are not independent nor are we self-reliant in the purest sense of the definition. We are very dependent and inter-connected with others throughout life. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re actually in control and can handle every situation that life throws you with self-made confidence. It is a mistaken mindset with an unpleasant future reckoning.

We are dependent upon one another, but more significantly, we are dependent upon God. If you must be dependent upon someone or something, why not be dependent on God? Why not move from self-reliance to God-reliance? Why not move from self-dependent to God-dependent? God wants you to rely on Him. He is our strength, provision, and help. He wants for us to trust, rely, and depend on Him. Here’s to all the myth believing self-reliant gullibles. If you have to be dependent, why not rely on the one who won’t let you down?

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7