Over the last week, I’ve been starting to write some preliminary notes for my next book.
The book is my reflection on what I’ve observed in the life of Americans – we as Christians have a hard time knowing the source of our successes and accomplishments.
One the one hand, we recognize our contribution to our current situation. We went to work early. We stayed late. We studied pages of books. While others played, we worked.
This all leads to the assumption that we are what we are because of who we are. We respond by writing self help books. We preach a message of personal growth and productivity. We encourage others to elevate themselves to our standard of accomplishment.
At the end of the day our accomplishments should be attributed to ourselves.
We get the pat on the back.
On the other hand, we recognize the grace in our current situation. A door opened for which we were under qualified. We attended a school we wouldn’t have been able to afford if we were born into another family. We’ve been healthy and free of disability. We made contacts that appear to be mere coincidence.
This all leads to the assumption that we are what we are because of grace.
At the end of the day, our accomplishments should be attributed to God Himself.
He is glorified.
The Two Circles of Accomplishment Attribution
Essentially, what we are talking about here is what Stephen Covey calls “Sphere of Influence”. Covey believes that there are parts of our life that we can control and parts we cannot. The wise person will identify what she can control and focus her efforts there.
Picture two circles.
The first circle is what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished, and what I contributed to my current situation.
The second circle is what I’ve received, what He’s done, and what He’s orchestrated my my current situation.
A Christian cannot deny that both circles exist.
The book of Proverbs is written to those who seek to alter the circle of their own circumstances. Wisdom teaches us the way of right living if we wish to be blessed.
The answer, of course, is that both circles exist and both circles contribute to our current situation.
The vexing part of the answer is how big is each circle?
Are most of your achievements and accomplishments the result of your work and effort or the result of God’s gracious endowment to you?
My assumption is that too often we make our circle too big and God’s circle too small. The impact is that we forget to thank God for what he’s done (because we’re too busy boasting of our accomplishments), and the greatest tragedy is that what we do does not result in the praise of his glory.
What say you? Are your accomplishments something you’ve earned or something you’ve received?