You (Don’t) Got This

It’s become the mantra of our culture. You’ll find it written on coffee cups, t-shirts, pillows, wall decor, and anything else you can stick an inspirational phrase on. It’s the motivational speech we give ourselves and others. Three little words on which we hang our confidence and courage.

You got this. 

Whatever challenges you face- you got this. Whatever problems complicate your life- you got this. Whatever obstacles lie in your way to riches, happiness, or success- you got this. This is the message of countless bestsellers- the message that all the strength, wisdom, and ability you need to better your life is found within you. It’s a message that tells us that deep inside ourselves there are unlimited resources to live the lives we want and desire. All you need to do is simply realize it and believe that- despite what anything else might tell you- you got this.

But no matter how much we – and the books we read- keep repeating the refrain, we can’t seem to escape the sense that we in fact don’t got this.  If we’re honest, when most of us look inside ourselves we don’t find unlimited resources of strength, but the frail ruins of broken lives filled with failure, pain, regrets, and confusion. We can deceive ourselves and blind ourselves to this mess inside, but sooner or later we all discover what the apostle Paul discovered about himself: “I know that nothing good dwells in me” (Rom. 7:18). The deeper we look inside, the more obvious it becomes that looking inside ourselves for the answers is not the answer.

The truth is we were never meant to find the answers by looking inside ourselves. We were never meant to “get this” by some hidden and untapped inner strength the bestsellers keep telling us we possess. The self was never meant to bear the weight of all our hopes, dreams, and desires. No, the power to change, transform, or improve our lives does not come by looking inward to the finite resources of the self, but by looking outside and away from ourselves to the infinite power, strength, and wisdom of God.

We don’t have the power or strength we need to change our lives, but “God gives power and strength to his people” (Psalm 68:35). We don’t have the wisdom to make sense of our failures, disappointments, and sufferings, but “the LORD gives wisdom, from his mouth come wisdom and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). We don’t naturally possess the resources we need for this life, but “God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).  Only by looking outside of ourselves to God do we find the resources we so desperately need.

So don’t believe the you got this gospel. You’ll never find the strength you need by looking within yourself, but only by looking to God in faith. Call out to him and wait on him for “those who wait on the LORD will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31). Ask, ask, and ask him again for the wisdom you need for “he gives [wisdom] generously to all without reproach” (James 1:5). And turn away from yourself, humbly trusting his infinite resources, his unfailing love, and his unbreakable promise to supply “everything you need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

He’s got this. 

There is no power in independency

Years ago when I was a support raising missionary for World Harvest Mission (now known as Serge), I was assigned a mentor whose name was Dave McCarty. Dave was and continues to be profoundly influential in my understanding of the Christian life and how it can only be lived by radical dependency on Jesus and his Spirit.

Once a week or so, Dave sends out emails to people who are praying for him and his ministry that I find to be much-needed gospel reality checks. He also posts these emails up on I’d encourage you to check them out and see if you find them as helpful as I do. Below is one called “There is no power in independency” that I find particularly powerful and convicting.

There is no power in independency.

Only in Jesus-dependency.  The independent is wise in his own eyes, leans on his own understanding, does not ASK Jesus about evathang, nor does he THANK Jesus about evathang, and he is not curious/expectant to see what Jesus does NEXT, in him, others, circumstances.  There is no contagious Jesus in an independent.  Only in a Jesus-dependent.

Independents are great at getting things done with human power, and they succeed in business, government, education, but not in the Body of Christ.  Or saying it better, success in the organized Church is measured the same way success is measured in business, government, education — by human standards, human power.  Lives are not transformed into Jesus-dependency by human power, human planning, human execution.  The Holy Spirit is not needed for success in business, government, education, nor in the Church as we know It.  Better strategies will not produce a better Church.  Better humans will produce a better Church, a much-different Church, where the Jesus in humans is contagious to the other humans, as it was in the early Church.

—Dave McCarty, GospelFriendships, who thinks he sees the problem but feels powerless to be different or make a difference, unless the Spirit works.