The Blessing of Limitations

Scott AtteberyChristian LivingLeave a Comment

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot do everything you set your mind to. No matter how hard I try, I will never slam dunk a basketball on a ten-foot goal (without assistance), or solve the mysteries of the superstring theory.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that humans can do incredible things when we set our minds to it (think Rubik’s cube). But we must stop short of saying we can do anything.

There is a great difference between marvelous potential and unlimited potential. It’s the same difference between being made in the image of God (marvelous) and actually being a god (unlimited). The former is a reflection of God’s glory, the latter is a heretical blasphemy.

From a parenting standpoint, consider the implications. If you promise your child they can do “anything they set their mind to,” you are 1) lying to them, 2) setting them up for failure and disappointment, and 3) giving them false expectations.

I remember one high school counselor telling me about a senior girl whose world came crashing down when she was not given a scholarship to the university she had dreamed of attending. Even though she had a perfect GPA, her SAT scores were not high enough for the scholarship. She cried and told the counselor, “my mom has told me all of my life that if I tried hard enough I could accomplish anything. I don’t know how I could have tried harder. My family doesn’t have enough money to send me to the university, so I’ll have to settle for a different school.”

The wonderful innovations and achievements of humans are a glory to their creator. But, if everything in life was as simple as just “setting your mind to it,” I suppose there would be no need to depend upon God and trust His wisdom. In fact, if we could achieve anything we wanted, I doubt we would ever develop the most important thing: faith in Christ. Praise God for giving us limitations!

The next time (which will probably be today) that you run into a problem you cannot solve or a task you cannot handle, remember: Your limitations are divine prompts to help you depend upon God rather than trusting in yourself. So you can either take issue with your limitations or take joy in Christ.

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I think it was Clint Eastwood who once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Maybe its time for parents, teachers, and counselors to echo his sentiment. That sounds like something we should set our minds to!

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