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Lenten Devotional 02-23-2023

Good morning, and welcome to this season of Lent! Over the next seven weeks, we will journey together through this Lenten season as we read devotionals written by our own students, faculty, staff, and campus ministers. Today’s devotional comes to us from Michael Mack. Michael serves as an Assistant Dean in the Dean of Students Office where he provides advocacy and support for students, manages student concerns, and responds to student crises. On a personal note, Michael is one of the first people I had the pleasure of meeting at TCU; he immediately struck me as a kind soul, and I have come to know him as consistently caring, joyful, and empathic. I trust you will enjoy today’s devotional as we begin this Lenten journey.

Philippians 1:6

  …being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.

Your Success Is Not Up to You

When I was in elementary, I was dubbed a TAG student. TAG was an acronym used for “talented and gifted.” Simply stated, I was deemed one of the “smart kids” at my school and my teachers always made it a point to distinguish me from the rest of my peers. And I always hated how it felt being under that kind of spotlight. Something always seemed off to me trying to live up to the (perceived) high expectations of others. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way I adopted these expectations for myself and carried them throughout my K12 education. As a result, I felt frustrated or fraudulent more times than I care to remember. Fortunately, I was blessed to have a college mentor that helped me realize what had occurred and the harm that had been produced. The mentality imbued in me all those years ago caused me to believe that success in life (whether academic, personal, or otherwise) was solely determined by my own efforts. I was never taught how to ask for help, let alone, depend on anyone other than myself for anything. It was such an eye-opening moment for me.

Sadly, I have encountered a number of people, Christians included, that think the same way. Many believe the old adage “if it’s going to be, it’s up to me,” but quite often at a very detrimental cost. I believe in Phil 1:6 the author counters this mentality for the church at Philippi. The author tells them that the work (salvation) that God had begun in their lives (when they placed their faith in the Gospel of Christ preached to them), would be completed by God—not themselves. In other words, the shaping, molding, and becoming who God destined them to be was solely the work of God alone. And God will carry it on (continue his work) in them until the day that Christ returns. What these early Christ followers needed to understand about becoming who they were destined to be, is that it didn’t depend on their efforts. Rather, becoming who they were destined to be—ultimately their success in life—depended solely on the God who had saved them. The author goes on to encourage these believers to consistently yield to good work God begun in them. We also need to be reminded of this today. The Lenten season is a great time to be reacquainted with such a liberating truth.

Let us pray.

Abba Father, faithful and true; please help us understand how committed you are to finishing the good work you began in us. Help us, God, to lean into your love and to settle in our hearts that our success in life ultimately depends on you and not our own efforts. Father, please teach us how to accept your truth and walk in it daily. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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