Phil Hodges, a coauthor of Lead Like Jesus, says, “Satan’s definition of success is performance plus the opinions of others.”
I am easily lulled into believing this lie. I like it when people pay me a compliment which morphs into a compulsion to have people notice me. I like the diplomas and certificates on my wall. When I hear about a certification in just about anything a voice inside my head says, I NEED that! This pressure intensifies when I perceive those around me minimize me because of my disability. I want to laminate my resume and show them who I am and what I do, as if that would really prove anything.
When I buy into the lie that success equals performance plus the opinion of others, I lose. First, I lose because I can’t meet my performance expectations. I push myself to keep up with everybody, even though I know that that is physically impossible. Second, others’ opinions of me are probably inaccurate. Society’s view of those of us with disabilities falls into one of two extremes. They expect too little. Society seems to tell us we are better off dead than disabled. This is a lie straight from the pit of hell. Because they cannot see themselves living with a disability, and that produces fear, they can’t imagine me living with disability either.
At the other extreme, society’s expectations are too high. Every person with a disability needs to be a super-crip, or a source of inspiration. I call this the Brave Little Soldier Syndrome. It happens when people comment on how happy I am, or that I am always smiling, or how easy I make disability look. None of that is true. The problem is, if I believe this is what you expect of me, I will strive to achieve it. But nobody can relate to someone who’s always smiling, happy, and has no problems. When we can’t relate to someone, it is a blockade to a genuine relationship and mutual ministry.
In religious circles the high expectation may take the form of a statement like this, “Jerry, if you only had enough faith you could get up out of that wheelchair.” It makes faith like airline miles—you save up enough and exchange them for a working pair of legs, or eyes that see, or whatever else needs restoration.
I am grateful for all who pray for my healing. It is a good thing anytime someone lifts my name to heaven. I am confident God will act on those prayers for my good and His glory. But physical healing is not my greatest need. I need cured of my pride, my selfishness, and several other sins.
Who is the ultimate authority in our lives? I imagine that some of you may feel like it’s your parents, teacher, therapists, or anybody other than you. Lots of people, including some in the disability community, teach each person is the bottom line in their own lives. I agree we need to be responsible for our own lives, but that does not make us the final authority.
I am not interested in living according to Satan’s definition of success. If I choose any audience other than One, I lose. That One is our Creator and Father God. His standard for success is to love and obey Him and love and serve others in His name. When we choose Him as our audience, we are free to be who He created us to be.