Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Superhero Mentality

Some days I sit down to write and I am overwhelmed at the thoughts that swirl and twirl and how do I say what I am thinking, or what the burden on my heart is. Yesterday I came across an article that prompted me to pass it along. I know many people struggle with this, it was what God was laying on my heart as the start of the ministry year is drawing near. I knew with work, my desire to be on worship, practicing keyboards, braille extras, and life at home, my time would need to be well portioned out. Many things start up again in September and at the risk of being the burned out person in hindsight I am thoughtfully and prayerfully considering my evenings and spare time for the fall and winter. God is teaching me to be dependent on Him, and walking through life looking to Him for direction. 

The Superhero Mentality

Why God Doesn't Need Us to Be More Than Human

By Daniel Darling

Weakness is not the first word that comes to mind when you think of Elijah. That’s because Elijah did things nobody else did.
Like accurately predicting a three-year drought.
Like calling down fire from heaven.
Like outrunning a king’s chariot.
But the book of James reminds us that Elijah had a “nature like ours” (James 5:17). It’s tough to imagine Elijah as an ordinary man, but a story in 1 Kings 19 sheds light on the humanity of the most feared man in Israel.
Here we find Elijah fresh off a stunning victory on Mount Carmel. He defeated the practitioners of Baal worship. He persuaded all of Israel to swear allegiance to Jehovah. And after his appeal, God opened the floodgates of heaven, ending a year-long country-wide drought.
Not a bad day. And yet, do we find Elijah celebrating his successes? No. No post-game party for Elijah.
Instead, we find him miles from the epicenter of victory, brooding under a shade tree—a mere shadow of the man we saw on Mount Carmel. And he’s begging the Lord to take his life.
From Courage to Fear
So what happened? How did this bullet-proof superhero suddenly crack? And if Elijah can lose it, what does that say to lesser men and women?
It was a perfect storm. Three-and-a-half years of intense ministry. Threats from an enraged and unstable political leader. And a flaw in Elijah’s theology.
Here’s what you and I can learn from Elijah’s downward spiral into discouragement: the prophet bought into a common spiritual myth that still plagues believers today. I call it the “superhero mentality.” Others have labeled it the “missionary mindset” or the “martyr complex.” It’s the mistaken idea that activity for God is a worthy substitute for intimacy withGod. Along the way, we begin to assume responsibility for results and act as if normal human weaknesses don’t apply to Christians.
Honestly, I see a little of the superhero mentality in myself. Granted, I won’t ever be a hairy-chested, Baal-challenging, never-say-die prophet. I sip lattes, attend Weight Watchers®, and prefer to hunt my meat at the local supermarket.
But I have adopted the superhero men-tality by acting as if the entire kingdom of Christ depends on my working another 16-hour day at church or pounding out another Christian book or scheduling another ministry meeting.
And so God allows us who think we’re superhuman to come to the end of our abilities. Then He is there to receive with grace another burned-out prophet.
Practical Ministry
So what was God’s cure for Elijah’s superhero mentality?
Another Bible study?
Another Christian best-seller?
Another three-day seminar?
Those are things we’d suggest. And we have the four-color brochures to prove it. But God didn’t tell Elijah to pray more, read additional Scripture, or build an altar.
No, God did something so practical, it would almost seem unbiblical. He brought food. And not stale cafeteria sandwiches or day-old carryout, either.
This was a fresh meal, cooked to perfection by a heavenly chef and served to Elijah in his shade tree motel.
When was the last time Elijah had eaten? I’m guessing he skipped a few meals because he had “important ministry to do.”
But the Creator of the heavens and the earth—the same One who designed Elijah’s body to be nourished and rested—knew better what His servant really needed.
After Elijah polished off that meal, guess what God did? He brought another. I think there is some important theology tucked away in this story. You don’t even need a degree in Hebrew to pluck it out.
Sometimes physical needs have to be addressed before we can minister spiritually. The truth is that God doesn’t intend for us to try to be superhuman. He delights in our humanity. He shines in our weakness. His glory is revealed when we’re so frail. And we need to lean on Him for strength.
The psalmist writes, “For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14 niv). Funny that God remembers, but we forget.
We often worship in an evangelical culture that’s in love with measurables, so we can see the good we’re doing spiritually. But isn’t our weakness—our inability to produce anything good—at the very heart of the gospel message?
Are we really doing God a favor by neglecting the normal, natural care of our bodies? This is man-centered, performance-based theology. As if God sits aloft in heaven, crossing His fingers and hoping one more saint puts in a 16-hour day.
Here’s the naked truth that revitalized Elijah’s life and equipped him for years of fruitful ministry: God wasn’t dependent on Elijah; God wanted Elijah dependent upon Him.
Under that shade tree, Elijah wasn’t a superhero. He was helpless. He was weak. He was right where God wanted him.
Unfortunately, it often takes a meltdown of biblical proportions for us to come to this place.
(reprinted without permission)

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