One of the most impactful messages I have ever heard came from a pastor several years ago who spoke on the idea of “making decisions against yourself.” The main thrust of his message was that great Christians sometimes have to cut off mediocre choices to get to where God really wants them to be. While they might still be able to make comfortable choices and get by, the true payoff occurs when they are bold and make a greater decision against themselves.
For me, one of these decisions against myself has come in the sport of hockey. In my first year of undergrad, I started reffing and did so for ten years. While I certainly was not going to ever make it to the big leagues, I enjoyed the sport and the challenge. But one slight problem. Sundays. Anyone who is involved in sports knows that most of the competitive tournaments involve a good deal of Sunday competition.
In fact, when I first signed up to work games in the Great Toronto Area (GTA), the supervisor bluntly stated that unless I was going to work on Sundays they would not have a placed for me in doing higher level games. Over the past ten years, this decision has caused me to miss out on thousands of dollars of extra cash, simply because the best paying games and tournament finals are often on the first day of the week.
My point here is not to debate the merits of making Sunday the Lord’s Day (although I think there is a good case to be made in this regard). Certainly some health and service jobs necessitate work 7 days a week. I am simply making a statement about priorities and decisions. For me, to go where God wanted me to go and be the pastor he what he wanted me to be involved sacrificing the few extra bucks I might make on a Sunday afternoon so that it could be a day of rest that was focused on God.
Over the years, I have noticed that in our Christian journey, before God takes us to that next level of dependance on him, he often watches to see if we are willing to take an extra step in his direction and make a decision against ourselves. This might involve cutting out a hobby we enjoy so that it can be replaced by a more wholesome activity. It might include cutting back on entertainment or other pleasures that would be the enemy of God’s grand picture for our lives.
Making decisions against ourselves are not always exciting in the short run. Often, they can be a little painful. But they have a way of exercising our spiritual muscles in new ways. They stretch us and prepare our souls for the next steps that God has for us.