The people to whom I provide individual instruction have noticeable talents and abilities.  Many are more talented than they realize, more talented than they will allow themselves to admit.  For example, one popular Christian speaker has a potent testimony about the power for forgiveness, but she’s unable to spread her life-changing message to more people because of her spiritual education.  She was told throughout childhood that believers should shun accomplishment in order to remain humble and avoid becoming prideful.  Her success in ministry is causing her great internal turmoil, the main reason she hasn’t been in public for some time now.  Her well-meaning but naïve and destructive life-script has stopped her from sharing sparkling insights that set people free from hatred and bitterness.

 

Yes, these people have noticeable talents and abilities. But, of course, so do their peers. The fearful and the timid compete for jobs and spouses with one hand tied behind their back. They possess a self-handicap. They won’t allow themselves to live successfully, in large part because they don’t think God wants them to be successful.

 

These nice Christians who grew up as nice kids don’t finish last—that’s a common misconception that blurs the real problem.  Nice Christians finish in life’s frustrated middle, never getting to abundance, filled with inner angst, always playing defense, and usually filling out divorce papers at least once (sometimes more) during their beleaguered lifetime.  Some never get to marriage because they’re so nice as to be unattractive to potential spouses.  Their passive approach toward life often leads them to the passive worlds of fantasy and pornography.

 

I’ve instructed attorneys, doctors, landscapers, even a Sunday school teacher whose students would not respect him.  Each is thoughtful, considerate, and warm.  Many possess abilities that others crave.  Yet each has a soul controlled by timidity, fear, and anxiety.

 

They usually hadn’t much considered their backgrounds and experiences until their lives fell apart.  They didn’t seek or find help before they fell in love, married, had children, a mortgage, ailing parents.  There were warning signs, but they didn’t see them or, more commonly, refused to see them, until the amassed pressure they felt was so powerful they could nearly forge diamonds from it.  In many ways, the foundation of their adulthood crash was laid, brick by well-meaning brick, by what they were told as children about God.

 

Take Lynn Hybels, who along with her husband, Bill, started Willow Creek Community Church in 1975, today one of the nation’s most innovative ministries.  In her book Nice Girls Don’t Change the World, she describes a spiritual heritage that unintentionally makes children timid and passive, kids who do not make the world a better place.  They are handicapped adults and ineffective Christians.

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Hybels grew up in a small Michigan town and attended church regularly.  She heard preaching that was “pretty much hellfire and brimstone.  I heard a lot about sin and punishment, guilt and shame.”