Independence Is Overrated
July 4, Independence Day, is celebrated as the birth of American independence. No matter who you are, your political party, or your stance on various issues, you likely value independence. I feel like I grew up in the “independence” generation. I am a part of the Generation Jones era. I’m not sure how it played out for everyone, but as a female growing up during this time period, the value placed on independence was undeniable. The feminist movement of the ’60s spilled into the ‘70s, and social norms changed rapidly. I can still hear Helen Reddy singing, “I am woman; hear me roar!”
For those of us in the field of education, it took a while, but eventually doors opened for women to step into new roles like never before. Independence was good, and I liked it. In fact, I prided myself on being seen as independent. While on the surface independence sounds and looks desirable, I have come to believe it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, I would go as far as to say independence is overrated.
Independence, at its core, is self-focused. There is an underlying message of self-determination, self-reliance, self-rule, and self-sufficiency (all synonyms). All of these descriptions are highly valued in American culture. However, Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Talk about counterculture! Our old nature does not want to deny self, but Jesus knew it was impossible for us to grow in holiness and commitment to God on our own. Independence must give way to dependence on Him and Him alone. Through daily yielding, our life in Christ grows and develops. Dependence on Him changes everything.
When we are dependent on Christ we can…
be kind and forgiving.
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
refrain from judgment.
So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. Romans 14:13
look out for the interests of others.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Philippians 2:3-4
please God over man.
For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2:4
Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10
Independence is overrated. Can you imagine trying to be kind and forgiving, refrain from judgment, look out for others, and please God in our own strength? It is exhausting to carry the weight of independence on our shoulders. Being dependent on God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit is the secret to living a truly fulfilled and victorious life. It is really the only way to live. The old cliché “letting go and letting God” is worth repeating over and over again!
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Titus 2:11
It’s summertime, and many of us are trying to enjoy what little time we have left without obsessing about work. However, every teacher I know continues to think and plan to some degree for the upcoming school year. It’s just who we are! Let’s not only plan for activities and lessons but also for dependence on the Savior.
As Christian educators, we have a unique opportunity to show those around us what it looks like to forego independence for something much greater. When we fully depend on God, the need for independence is replaced with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). As we celebrate July 4, let’s be thankful for the freedom we have to not be independent but totally dependent on a loving God! After all, independence is overrated!