As long as we live in dead center of ourselves, there is little hope of life becoming full-scale. It all implodes; pulled down around us by unattainable expectations. We desire to be everyone’s center of attraction; consequently, we imprison ourselves to everyone’s expectations. We can’t say no to anyone, lest they think less of us or say something bad about us.

The Bible teaches that “the fear of man is a snare” (Proverbs 29:25). It is, however, a snaring of ourselves. It happens when we can’t stand for the attention of others to turn away from ourselves. It reminds me of the talent agent who was asked what all great movie stars have in common. He answered, “The glazed look in their eyes when the conversation turns to something besides themselves.”

Making yourself so pliable that you can fit into the mode of everyone’s expectations results in you becoming nothing more than a “Rorschach Test”; that is, an inkblot that people can imagine to be whatever they want it to be. Such an undefined self will be squeezed and shoved around all of its days, until it finally disappears, without leaving a trace of its existence. After all, it never was anything more than a figment of people’s imagination in the first place. 

Rather than living our lives to win the crumbs of other people’s recognition, why not live our lives to win “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14)? Those living to fulfill the call of God upon their lives are focused on pleasing God alone. They’re not pushovers to public opinion polls nor people who can be elbowed around by the expectations of others. Instead, their focus is diverted from themselves and centered on Him who loved them and died for them (Galatians 2:20).

This cure for nearsightedness—“I” trouble—found in Galatians 2:20 was championed as “the exchanged life” by the great missionary Hudson Taylor. Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission, taught that the Christian life wasn’t a changed life, but an exchanged life. We have exchanged our life—“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I…”—for Christ’s life—“…but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

To Hudson Taylor, our fixation on ourselves and failure to have faith in God was the explanation for the church’s futile impact upon a lost and dying world. He once wrote, “How many estimate difficulties in the light of their own resources, and thus attempt little and often fail in the little they attempt! All God’s giants have been weak men, who did great things for God because they reckoned on His being with them.” In other words, they all looked beyond themselves to God and His high call upon their lives!