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180 or 360?
by Rick Stephenson
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“Don’t’ worry I’ve got you’re back!” How comforting are those words? We’d all like to hear them, especially when it comes to the difficulties and challenges we have to face.

However, in our polarized society, we are driven more and more to be as independent as possible. We are encouraged to stand on our own two feet and take charge of our lives. We are pushed and prodded to “suck it up and deal with it”, whatever the “it” may be. Because of this, we keep from asking others for help and we resist any attempts others may make on our behalf. If you don’t believe the “I” attitude is prevalent, then explain the reasons that we have frozen dinners for one, single rider lines at amusement parks, individual serving sizes, separate cubicles, and a “take one” mentality for being waited on.

While being independent can certainly be good for us at times, it wasn’t God’s plan for us to travel the road of our existence this way. I believe that is why God gave us spouses, children, friends and family. To help ensure that there would always be someone there for us in times of difficulty. In fact, in scripture we are encouraged by these words:

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9 KJV)

“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” (Genesis 2:18 KJV)

“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17 KJV)

“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24 KJV)

But, how do we fight the urge and call to be independent? Why do we even need to resist it at all? I believe the current drive for self reliance is a tactic of the enemy (yes, satan, the devil, the deceiver, our adversary, lucifer or whatever other name you might refer to him as – although I prefer calling him the ole’ scum bucket). By getting us to avoid our need for other people in our lives, he can get us focusing only on our selves thereby cultivating our pride. After all, it was pride that caused him to fall from grace and it’s still the thing he props himself upon. Therefore, if he can get our pride to grow to such an extent, then we too will experience the same fall.

You say, what is so terrible about pride? You say, you want to have a healthy self-esteem and you think it’s a positive thing for kids to be taught how to be self-sufficient? Well, here’s the truth – I would agree with you!

A certain amount of pride is necessary in order to combat our human tendencies to beat ourselves down about our propensity to make mistakes. Additionally, being somewhat self-sufficient is wise in order to cope when we are faced with solo circumstances (which will happen quite a bit in our lifetime and there’s a valuable lesson in dealing with our aloneness but that’s for another blog). So, where’s the problem? It’s when pride exceeds the necessary limit we need for getting by and it is taken to the extreme.

Pride is defined as satisfaction with self when having or achieving something special that others admire or the proper sense of one’s own value but it also is a feeling of superiority or a haughty attitude shown often unjustifiably that one is better than others. As you can see, there are two contrasting definitions for the same word. The first is a correct level of respect but the second is a distorted view of self. So what tips the scales in the wrong direction? Too much independent thinking!

When someone believes they can get by on their own, they begin to believe that they don’t need others at all, outside of what they can use them for in fulfillment of their own benefits. They begin to think that they can do it all and do it well and so they discount the thoughts, suggestions or ideas that others present and they become blind-sided to their own opinions.

Think of it in terms of our initial opening statement of “I’ve got your back”. Where did that phrase originate? It came from battle. In a war when there is only one person fighting, they only have a view of 180-degrees or about a half a circle in front of them. However, in a scrimmage when one is fighting for their life, they can be attacked from all sides and they rely upon the security another soldier can provide. Therefore, when another solder comes to their aid, they will usually face away from each other so their backs are together allowing for 360-degree full circle view. This stance will make it harder for them both to be defeated.

In terms of a healthy pride, it is the one soldier recognizing their need for the other soldier and at the same time being aware of the other’s soldier need for them. However, in terms of distorted pride, it’s the one soldier thinking he can swing around fast enough to cover the whole area and stand on his own. But, no matter how fast or often he swings around and around there will always be an opening susceptible to attack and they’ll never see it coming. That’s why scripture warns us with these words:

“When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2 KJV)

“Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” (Proverbs 13:10 KJV)

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18 KJV)

“Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.” (Proverbs 18:12 KJV)

“A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.” (Proverbs 29:23 KJV)

“And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:” (Leviticus 26:19 KJV)

I would encourage you today, to check your level of pride and if necessary take steps to humble yourself. Being humble simply means being modest, unassuming, respectful towards others and relatively low in rank without pretensions. This is only achieved by thinking of others and their needs more than your own. It’s being willing to listen, to help, to go out of your way on behalf of others. In other words, it’s having their back when they need it. Moreover, in doing so, you may well find that they have yours but that is not the goal of humility. True humility is having their back even if they don’t have yours. It’s up to you, you can say you’re a 180 person or you can team up and become a 360 partnership. I would think with the numerous battles we face on a daily basis, that the latter is better. Also, think about this; a 180-degree circle is like a flat tire, it’s hard to get going in the right direction but a 360-degree circle is like a properly inflated tire and enables your life to get rolling along properly

God Bless – Rick


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