I have told people to throw away their Christian how-to books: those books on parenting, on marriage, on leading a small group, on having a prayer ministry, on having quiet times, on being in business, on missions, any of it, all of it.
What’s the problem?
Imitating what those authors did is following man, not God.
God does something great in someone’s life or ministry and they write a book and people try to copy their success. The problem is that it wasn’t their success. It was God’s.
While we’re all hopefully on the same path of wanting to be transformed into the image of Christ, He’s working out different things in our different lives and at different times and in different ways. We don’t get to play God and decide how He’s going to do it.
And like with all sin, it comes down to that – playing God. It’s the sin of the garden and it’s what is still with us today, this wanting to be in charge, take control. Of course, if we were God, we’d know what to do and wouldn’t have to copy someone else, but we ignore that part and try to take what we see as someone else’s success and apply it to ourselves. We try to make it happen.
It won’t succeed. If you do happen to have some outward appearance of success, it isn’t real success because it’s not what God chose for you. It will likely cause trouble down the road.
I’ve known that methods are the enemy of life in Christ. Now I know why.
There’s a Greek word methodos which is found in just two verses. The word is not translated method in either, but it is a root of our word method. How is it translated? Schemes. Both verses talk about the devil’s schemes to get us.
So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and from by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.Eph. 4:14
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.Eph. 6:11
Satan’s schemes, our methods.
Following methods means we haven’t sought God and aren’t willing to seek His ways or wait on Him. It means we can’t trust Him to pull through, so we have to make it happen ourselves. That’s what we’re really doing, even while we convince ourselves we are doing it “God’s way” by following the how-to guide with a few verses tucked in there.
You have to choose who you are going to follow. Are you going to follow man? Or are you going to submit to being led by the Spirit? Only one will lead you where you want to be heading.