by Karen Blanchard
SHELBY TOWNSHIP, MI – At a young age I learned to be a rule follower. Being a rule follower isn’t a bad thing; it is actually a great thing! Rule followers typically do well in school, become upstanding citizens, and live in a way to not cause problems or step outside set boundaries. However, somewhere along the way I began to equate being a rule follower to my relationship with Jesus.
As far back as I can remember, I would strive to be a certain type of person so that God would be proud of me. I always thought I had to do everything right to be in “right standing” with God. I viewed my relationship with him to be contingent on my behavior and what I did. This began a life of striving for perfection and pleasing people.
In Galatians 5:1 Paul writes,
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.
As I began to grow in my walk with God, he showed me clearly the yokes of slavery in my life.
Perfectionism was the first yoke of slavery in my life. This is still a constant struggle for me. I am the type of person that when I do something, I want to do it with excellence. The Lord revealed to me that if I am striving for perfection to prove something to someone or to bring glory to myself, then that is the wrong heart behind excellence. I have learned to give myself a lot of grace in this area. I am not always going to be perfect, because I am not perfect (none of us are!).
In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Jesus responds to Paul and says,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul responds in verses 10-11 and says,
“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
It is in our weakness, that we allow God to shine through us. If we are constantly striving for perfection, then we will never embrace our weakness; we will never see a need for God and see him work in a way in our lives that we know it was God and not us!
Another yoke of slavery God revealed in my life was people pleasing. From early on, I learned how to make people happy and lived by the opinions of others. I thought by fulfilling the expectations of others, they would accept me. Several years ago, I journeyed down this road with the Lord. He continues to show me that my acceptance is found in Him and Him alone. Now I walk in this freedom! I don’t let the opinions and expectations of people weigh me down any longer. The decisions I make aren’t based on the opinions of man, but rather, what I know God is calling me to do. In Christ, I have all I need. If someone doesn’t approve of what I do, it no longer bothers me, because I know who I am in Christ and what he has called me to do.
Proverbs 29: 25 tells us,
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
When we value the opinion of man over the opinion of God, we care more about what others think than what God thinks. This mindset will keep you in bondage and you will never experience the freedom God wants to give you in Him.
My husband is a pastor and we planted our current church, which means we started our church. If you have ever been part of a church plant, you know Sunday mornings are crazy and there are always things to do!
One Sunday a few years ago, my husband Scott was running around during the worship taking care of many things. I remember thinking, he should not be doing these things…he should be worshiping! The next Sunday I told Scott to meet me in the front row at the beginning of worship and that I wanted to worship with him. Honestly, before that Sunday, I am not sure the last time we worshiped together. That worship moment for us was special, and we vowed to continue to meet on the front row and worship together.
I share this story because people can look at me as the pastor’s wife and make many assumptions as to why I sit on the front row. I don’t allow those assumptions to bother me because I know why I am there. I also know who I am worshiping. When I worship on Sunday mornings, I don’t let the fear of man hold me back; I am in the moment with my Savior. This is freedom in Christ!
I pray as you continue your journey, that you realize Christ is ALL you need. Ask God to reveal to you the “yokes of slavery” in your life that are keeping you from experiencing the freedom God wants to give you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen is married to Scott Blanchard, pastor of Lakepointe Church, and moved from Florida to Michigan in the summer of 2009 to plant Lakepointe Church in Shelby Township. She enjoys mentoring and discipling women and also leads women’s life groups through her church. She is passionate about helping women find their purpose in who God created them to be. She is on staff at Lakepointe Church and loves being part of what God is doing in the Metro Detroit area!