Breaking the Hard Shell - Internal Obstacles

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds -John 12:24

In the last post, I mentioned that the first step in growing to our fullest is finding our vision. Once we find our life vision, we are on the journey to our fullest. Along the journey, the first obstacle is our internal struggles. A saying is well said, you are your own worst enemy. So the second step in growing to your fullest is to conquer yourself.

In the book, Ego is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday, it said, the only real failure is abandoning your principles. Killing what you love because you can’t bear to part from it is selfish and stupid. If your reputation can’t absorb a few blows, it wasn’t worth anything in the first place.

Ego blinds our eyes to see others’ strengths and uniqueness; ego closes our ears to hear different voices; ego shuts our mind to heed wise suggestions; ego stops us from taking accountability when things go wrong and makes us point fingers to others, ego jails us in a dark rabbit hole shut off the light. We see and experience egos everywhere in life. How often we quarrel about little things with our spouse, children, or colleagues?

Have you ever heard or said these languages: How could you do that! Why did not you do that! It’s your fault, your problem! You did that! ...

Have you ever brew any pride in your heart because of a little success or jealousy of others because they are better than you? Have you seen people take credit of others’ work or macro manage others for their goodness?

An ego acclaims, “I am the captain of my fate, I am the master of my soul.” The ego would never experience the unexpected splendid views on a journey that is charted and captained by others; the ego would never know the heart is held captive in littleness and bitterness. The famous writer, Gilbert Chesterton, once said, “one may understand the cosmos but never the EGO; the self is more distant than any star.”

Recently, my family took a vacation to Paris and visited the Palace of Versailles. When I was looking at the lives of kings during their glories of times, I couldn’t help but wonder why the good times were gone and why they could not continue their prosperity. Same things happen to all people, kingdoms and nations, they rise at a time and fall at another. The driving force of any fall stems from ego. But any rise comes from opposite, without ego. Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't, did a lot of research by comparing companies. The result shows that the companies fall when the leaders have a strong ego, the companies rise when the leaders are without an ego, so do churches. Instead these leaders are very humble and have a spirit and the courage to confront their self ego and conquer it.

It’s like a seed with a hard shell where a life sleeps in it. The seed has to break out its shell first before the life in it sprouts.

What is our life’s shell that stops us to grow? They are usually the things deep in our heart, EGO, I-glasses, selfishness, lust for possession, controlling and pride, cynicism, jealousy, fear, contentment and procrastination, etc. These are sins living in the center of our hearts.

The shell is the very first obstacle we have to break in order to grow out a new life. Phenomenally it tells us a truth: it takes self brokenness to grow to our fullest. This is a hard message, but it’s a road unavoidable. The Lord said it seriously, Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds (John 12:24).

The process of self-brokenness is not pleasant at all, instead it’s full of pains and risks. It requires courage, determination, and perseverance. However, it’s a process that is indispensable. Without it, you will always remain as a seed until it becomes rotten.

Ego is the first roadblock to our fullest. In order to live out our best, we have to walk out of our ego and die to our ego. If we do not die to our ego, we will die of them. So we have to be broken first - just like a baby bird has to break out its egg shell to grow and fly.

The Lord called his disciples and us, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25)

May we have the courage to take our own cross and break our shells, fly to our fullest from God.

In the next post, I will discuss the external obstacles and how to conquer it in the journey to Grow to Our Fullest!

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