Last night, I lay in bed thinking about the 100 Hard Things challenge.
Doing one hundred hard things over the course of three months sounded exciting and impossible at the same time. But as I thought about potential things I could accomplish, I came across a potential problem.
While the challenge could foster great accomplishments in denying self, it could also become a pathway to pride or a works based salvation.
One of the biggest pitfalls in doing hard things is pride.
Simply put, pride is always wanting people to notice you–to talk about you, to praise you, and to compare themselves with you.
But how can this become a problem when we pursue hard things?
Well, say you just conducted a fundraiser for your local homeless shelter. You feel good about yourself. You notice people praising your motivation and good heart. Soon, all the praise gets to your head and you become obsessed with yourself.
Now you do hard things because you want attention. You don’t pray before you act. You don’t give God the glory when something succeeds. You lose sight of the reason you began doing hard things in the first place, and eventually, your hard things don’t seem to have an impact anymore.
Another pitfall in forgetting why we do hard things is that it can cultivate a works based salvation that fails to recognize Jesus as its Source.
When this happens, you start believing you are earning bonus points with God by helping a neighbor or volunteering at your church. You start comparing yourself to others and justifying small sins. Soon, you start to worry about your salvation when you fail because you have placed your identity in doing hard things instead of Jesus Christ.
If we want to avoid either of these mindsets in life, we must always remember why we do hard things; or rather, for Whom we do hard things.
Of course, the Person we do hard things for is Jesus Christ! He is not only who we do hard things for, but the Person who spurs us to do them in the first place. Our identity is placed in Him alone and because of this we are motivated to bring His Kingdom down to earth by getting our hands dirty and working hard. Our every action is for the glory of God because He saved us and made us His children!Our identity is placed in Him alone and because of this we are motivated to bring His Kingdom down to earth by getting our hands dirty and working hard. Click To Tweet
Because our end goal in thriving as teens is to bring God glory, this informs how we do hard things. Below are two things we must remember if we wish to truly succeed in doing hard things:
1. We must pray.
Prayer is so foundational! I confess I often forget this important first step, but that does not give me permission to omit it. Before you attempt any hard thing, bathe it in prayer.
Your prayer could be as simple as, “Lord, please bless this work and use it for Your glory” or as long as an hour prayer session that brings every person and detail of the project before the Throne of Heaven.
Whatever you do, make sure to pray with an earnest longing for God’s glory. If you do not pray God’s blessing over your project, how can it succeed?
2. We must give God the glory.
When you complete a project, help a friend, or achieve a personal goal, always remember to give God the glory.
I know a woman who lives this out perfectly. Every time I compliment her on her cooking or thank her for preparing a meal for us, she replies, “I’m so glad. Praise the Lord!” This simple reply points the person thanking her to Christ instead of herself.
Giving God the glory for whatever you do truly puts John the Baptist’s cry into action: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
With these two tips in mind, I want to give you a vision. Imagine tens of thousands of teens around the world praying before every project and giving God the glory every time they succeed.
What a wonderful, refreshing reprieve this would be in a self-centered, self-focused world! When we take the focus off ourselves, we will not fall into the pit of pride, and we will humbly turn our gaze to One who gave us our salvation instead of trying to earn it. This would truly change the world.
May you, dear reader, be inspired to do hard things today, remembering all the while why you do them.