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In church we learn to not lean on ourselves. We learn we can do nothing with our own power. That we must completely let go of control and let God. That everything that happens is from God and that we must be humble and let people do whatever they wish to us because it is God's will and doing.

I almost get the impression that all my OWN thoughts and actions are wrong.

That I must be a true servant to other peoples needs and that I can never say no to them, even if they are manipulative or crazy.

In addition, I leave service feeling bad to be ambitious and work hard.

How do I have self confidence, self esteem, think for myself, feel free, proud of my achievements and feel good about working hard, if I follow what is preached ?

What part of Christianity am I missing?

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Do you mind if I ask what sort of congregation this is? Which flavour of Christianity? That context may be important to the question. –  Marc Gravell Mar 17 '12 at 7:58
Calvary Chapel. –  Greg McNulty Mar 17 '12 at 19:22

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

This is a very good question and I want to address it from several different approaches.

First have to go a little deeper into the reason you believe that you are here on this earth.

The bible has many examples of why God put us here. At the for front among those is to prove us or test us.

Judges 2:22, That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not.
23, Therefore the Lord left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.

So here we see an instance where the Lord comes strait out and says I am testing you to see if you will follow the commandments. This is important to note because for something to be a test you necessarily have need the option to be able to fail. Which means that we have agency or the ability to choose for ourselves what we will do in life.

Since we have agency that means that there is opposition because you can't have choice without opposition. This is important to note because you say that you are learning that you have to accept whatever someone does to you because its God's will. That is not necessarily the case. The Lord lets the rain fall on the just and unjust alike and He allows somethings to happen to good people because it needs to be that way if we are going to choose to follow Christ.

Jesus admonished the sinners that He healed to go and sin no more. Why would He do this if everything that was happening was being caused by God? He said this because not everything that was happening was being caused by God but by people exercising their agency to choose the devil instead of God and hence sinning. So we can see that while everything is allowed by God not everything is caused by Him, a very crucial difference.

That lets us address the part of your question where you say that we need to lean on the Lord and not our own power. This is true. Because we all live in a fallen state no matter how much we want to we will at one time or another exercise our agency to choose to follow the devil and sin. To return to the path we need to lean on Christ and His Atonement for us. The scriptures say that there is no other way to return to live with God.
So we are being tested yes, we need to make our own decisions to live up to that test but when we fail we need to rely on the Lord to make that up because we can't do that ourselves.

Here is a scripture to go with the importance of doing works ourselves and yet rely on the Lord at the same time:

James 2:14-21) 14: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

15: If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

16: and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

17: Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

18: Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

19: Thou believest that there is one God; thou does well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

20: But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

21: Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

Abraham did not know ahead of time that a substitute would be there to be offered instead of his son yet he proved himself worthy by relying on the Lord for that difficult trial and passed his test. Similarly we need to show our faith by our works which means that we need to get out and do service.

Feeling good about ones-self is paramount to the gospel and enshrined in the second commandment given by Christ:

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (emphasis mine)

You can't love yourself if you don't feel good about yourself so while we should not feel boastful we should feel good about what we have accomplished serving the Lord because it shows our faith and that we are striving to pass the test given to us.

So to sum up: In order to prove ourselves we need to have agency which requires that we think for ourselves and choose to freely follow God. We need to do hard work to show our faith and pass our test. And we should feel good about what we accomplish because it shows that faith (and anything that involves building faith is including the Lord), and shows we are doing our best. And its commanded by the Lord. In all of this we must remember that we will slip up from time to time and it is at those points when we must rely on Christ to make up for our sins.

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allowed vs caused by God, great point. Thanks for the info, will read over again... –  Greg McNulty Mar 17 '12 at 19:43

God expects us to use our own minds:

Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.

Psalm 32:9

And he expects us to achieve and be proud of our accomplishments, so that we don't burden others:

Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.

Galatians 6:4-5

Jesus Himself told us to use the gifts we've been given:

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

Don't let manipulative people control you, but rather:

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 4:23

So as I'm answering this I'm left with one important question for you: "Are you getting Biblical teaching at your church?

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Thank you, that helps a lot. Yes I do think I am getting it but perhaps it is a perspective & interpretation issue of the non-denomination...I really don't know how to compare but each denomination seems to think their way is the only right one, so it is very confusing. –  Greg McNulty Mar 17 '12 at 19:25
@GregMcNulty: Everyone thinks they are right and always have! I strongly recommend you read the Bible for yourself and get into a small group of trusted Christian friends who can help you process this. God bless! –  Wikis Mar 17 '12 at 19:32

Ecclesiastes 3:13 states

That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil--this is the gift of God.

Hence, I believe it Biblical to take pride in your work, as long as it doesn't become arrogance.

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I love short answers. –  JustinY Mar 22 '12 at 18:29

It's interesting how many 'christians' almost think that you can't be confident. That's not true and never will be. You should follow your heart, and not other people's advices, if you feel there is something wrong with their opinions. And this opinion is wrong. Of course, too much confidence, being arrogant, selfish, that's not good. But does it mean that confidence by itself is wrong?? Of course not. Is sex a bad thing, only because some people don't know how important and exceptional thing it is, or how to use it the good way? No.

And, mainly, you should know these verses from the Bible: (Ecclesiastes 5:18,19) 'Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one's labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. *To enjoy your work* and accept your lot in life--this is indeed a gift from God. (Proverbs 13:4) 'Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.'

It's unbelievably crazy how some christians always think that you should only prosper in terms of church and so, even that there is nothing written here like that. You should prosper in everything. You might be even a pop-artist star or pro-football player if you want, it's certainly not a bad thing. Of course, it would be probably a bad thing if you forgot about God, if you stopped being with God. But this applies for everything. That doesn't mean you can't have it. The most important thing is to be thankfull for everything you have and don't forget about God, but you should enjoy it by yourself. I believe that when God created man and woman, he gave you the ability to enjoy things, enjoy everything you want as long as it's not wrong. God gave you the ability to feel good about yourself, to feel confident. If there is somebody in the universe, who wants you to feel bad about yourself, unimportant, unloved, and that you can't do anything, and that you will never find any happines, and who wants you to doubt everything and being pessimistic about everything, do you really think this thinking is from God ?? It's not a tough question.

Sorry for a long answer. :) This is rather my opinion, it is just what I believe. To be honest, I would die for it.

You, as well as other people, may agree or disagree with that, that's ok. I don't have a patent for the best answer ever.

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thanks........... –  Greg McNulty Jan 24 '14 at 3:16

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