Dr. Willard quotes Samuel Shoemaker on being used as a speaker for God: the quote bears repeating.
“Something comes into our own energies and capacities and expands them. We are laid hold of by Something greater than ourselves. We can face things, create things, accomplish things, that in our own strength would have been impossible….The Holy Spirit seems to mix and mingle His power with our own, so that what happens is both a heightening of our own powers, and a gift from outside. This is as real and as definite as attaching an appliance to an electrical outlet, though of course such a mechanical analogy is not altogether satisfactory.”
Self-actualization–“the desire for self-fulfillment, namely the tendency for him [the individual] to become actualized in what he is potentially.” The definition of self-actualization is very revealing. If you are acquainted with motivation psychologist Abraham Maslow, self-actualization is at the top of his famous pyramid; it is the time in life when we reach our full potential. There is a reason it is atop the pyramid [the figure he uses to picture his theory]; it is rarely experienced.
Some people believe they have to do self-actualization on their own, that is, they have to be in charge of maximizing their own potential. What is their formula? Hard work and lots of it. Toss in a lot of motivation. Goal-setting is another essential. Vision of the future is helpful. Man, that’s a lot of stuff.
Is it no wonder that some people just don’t self-actualize “on their own?” It just seems to be too much work and many just are not up to it.
But what if you could plug into God’s electrical outlet?
What if we could let Him direct us to the better life we could be leading?
What if we could have more right now…we don’t have to wait for our pass to the “other side,” our “eternal reward?”
Joel Osteen is an American preacher, televangelist, author, and the Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church, the largest Protestant church in the United States, in Houston, Texas. He is a dynamic speaker who likes to preach on what we can accomplish in this life. I have a niece who is a pastor who gave me a copy of his devotional entitled Your Best Life Now. Pastor Osteen comes under some criticism from time to time. I have heard other pastors say that his message is too watered down, it is filled with too much of the prosperity gospel, it is unbiblical, his church is so big that there is no personal touch, he has become a celebrity.
Ok Ok Ok…
But is part of his message correct?
What if we could have a better life, right now?
Let’s get back to Samuel Shoemaker. Is the key to the best life now letting God use you? Can you be a spokesperson for God and experience the energy, expanded capacity, creative ability and strength that is beyond yourself?
Is Shoemaker right?
Is Osteen trying to make us see the promise of God, the promise that has eluded us…the promise that our best life can truly be experienced in this world.
This type of thinking is truly hard to swallow for many people. It seems we are tuned to hear a negative message. We have newspapers that put the sad and even horrific story on the front page. We watch programs on tv that focus on crime and social problems. Politicians like to talk about what is wrong and ignore what is right. Even everyday conversation becomes more intriguing if it is peppered with messages about the troubles that people are having rather than successes that people are experiencing.
Why are we that way?
Why do we focus on the problems rather than the positive promises of God?
Osteen often prays the prayer “Thank you God for this amazing and incredible life, for making it possible to enjoy every part of it, even the tough times.” One of his favorite quoted scriptures is Hebrews 11: 1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Why does this prayer fall flat for a lot of people?
Look again at Hebrews 11:1 and let’s break it down: assurance is a key word in that Scripture. Assurance means a positive declaration intended to give confidence; a promise. Couple assurance with the phrase “of things hoped for” and you have a very positive statement about the future. Essentially you have a promise that what you hope for will come true. You believe it and it will come to pass. Conviction means a firmly held belief or opinion. Couple that with the phrase “of things not seen” and you have a strong statement that even though you cannot see it now, you will see it.
What has to happen to us to get to this level of belief?
Maybe, but works by man may fall short, despite the most uplifting words by the most popular self-help guru. The works of man without God can just be works of the flesh if a person is not founded on God.
What if our “self-help guru” is the one and only Lord and Savior? Our power source is God? All our efforts to self-actualize would be so much easier and more productive if we just turned to and said “I am ready for more good things in my life than bad. Lead me to the better life I can experience here on earth Lord…I am ready…”
To live my best life now.