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“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”  John 14:12

“Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.'” John 5:19

I happened to be watching a funeral ceremony for a noted person this past weekend.  I found it ironic that this person, of late, was known for being a champion of civility and compromise when necessary.  It was also true the person was known for sticking to their values in the face of opposition from friends and foe alike.  Yet as the casket was leaving the church, perhaps giving the final impression of this person; Frank Sinatra’s rendition of “My Way” was playing.  I found that ironic.

However, I did not find it unusual for our age.  Much are the celebrated stories of self made people and the people who did it, accomplished it on their own.  So much are these stories celebrated that I believe they have risen to the level of modern day mythology.  Mythology defined as a group of stories that are associated with a particular time in history.  There are many stories about the idea that started in a dorm room, a technology that started in a garage or basement and/or a business that started on a dining room table top. Now please understand, myth does not necessarily mean completely untrue.  Those ideas, technologies and businesses exist.  Additionally, there were individuals who played a singularly significant role in formulating, inventing, promoting and shepherding those ideas, technologies and businesses to success.  However,  the role of the individual has been trumpeted and extolled to such a great extent, that the “go-it-alone”, “I know best”, “I’ll break all rules and ask forgiveness upon success”, theme and mantras and the limelight and fame that goes with them have become the holy grail or golden fleece pinnacles of our modern day consciousness.

So why does this matter; what impact does it have?  Lately I’ve witnessed and experienced far reaching and system wide impacts.  For I’ve worked with leaders at some significantly high levels who both believe that their successes, achievements and promotions are a direct result of almost solely their individual efforts. Consequently this provides them a unique talent to run everything from meetings to entire organizations as “my” meeting, “my” team and/or “my” organization.  While they would never articulate that they are infallible or perfect, the only ideas that can be entertained are those ideas that align with their worldview and most all other personal and professional characteristics are judged acceptable based on their perception and reasoning.  The outcome, I’ve witnessed to this approach is more fractured teams, frustrated individuals and sub-optimal outcomes.

Okay, I could now launch into some business lesson or course on the power of teamwork and the positive attributes of a good team player but this post concerns something more pressing than that.  This post concerns our very lives for all eternity.

If anyone in history could lay claim exclusively to the term “self-made man”, it would be Jesus Christ.  Scripture tells us Jesus was right there at the beginning with God, that He is God and all things were created through Him by God.  Having no earthly farther and conceived by God, being God on earth, it could be argued He was truly “self-made”. Yet Jesus was never about claiming glory for Himself.  Consider this, Jesus never claimed that what He was teaching, the miracles He accomplished or the plan He was following was of His making.  Jesus was very clear that all of what He was doing came from the Father, based upon what the Father wanted done.  Okay, so there was someone above Him but at least on earth, Jesus demanded the best of all things and servitude from all.  One wonders if we can imagine the self made titans of today, getting down on their hands and knees and washing and drying their employees feet, even the feet of a person He knew was going to betray Him?  If or when attacked, would they stand out in front, shielding and protecting their followers from any harm?  And yes, Jesus did proclaim that He was the way; but He was not the end or the pinnacle to the way.  He is the way to the Father.

Thus if Jesus Christ is not to claim the title of self made man or instead of adopting the “My Way” song for His theme song, instead proclaim that it is all about and sing the praises of the Father; who are we to believe that self made is the way to go.  Dear Sisters and Brothers whether we use the term made or created, we must understand there is a Maker or Creator.  We were not made/created to go it alone in anything. Understand what Jesus is warning us about.  It’s not that if we go it alone, if we reject Him and follow ourselves or each other, that we’ll lose out on somethings, we won’t go as far as we could have, we might be successful but have fewer or lesser successes.  No, Jesus Christ is clear, apart from Me, you can do NOTHING!   NO   THING!

However, it’s not all negative.  Jesus Christ declares; you want to do great things, even greater than I’ve done; then believe in Me.  Believe that I’ve come from and have returned to the Father and you will receive untold blessings from the power the Father longs to share with you and show through you.

Finally “self-made” is short term, no matter what.  There is no salvation through the self.  There is no eternal life through the self.  A worldly self made life is an eternally self made loss.  Please, embrace the reality of being Jesus Christ made, thus Father approved. In that way the great things we will indeed accomplish through Christ, will bring honor, glory and praise to the Father and blessings to His creation.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, from the very beginning it has not been about One but about the Father, Son and Spirit.  We are awed, humbled and eternally grateful that You, in Your Mercy and Grace, have decided to share Yourself with us, Your Creation.  You have promised the Holy Spirit to be in us, to guide us, correct us and sustain us.  You have given us Your Son Jesus Christ as a perfect sacrifice in our place to be our Salvation.  Forgive us Father, when we are tempted to and sometimes turn away from You to chase the worldly concept of “self-made”, hoping to bring praise and glory solely to us.  Show us and lead us back to You where we know that through Jesus Christ, in You, that is the only way we will ever achieve anything.  That in living lives abiding in Christ, we may carry out Your Perfect plan and bring glory, honor and praise to Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

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