10 Myths of the Try-Harder Treadmill

Everywhere I go I run into tired people. People are tired of trying; trying to make life work, trying to enjoy a dead-end job, or trying to jump-start a marriage when the love has long gone away.

Trying harder is so ingrained in our culture, that we’ve developed myths around it. Here are my Top Ten Try-Harder Treadmill Myths:

1. If it won’t fit; get a bigger hammer. This myth basically says that you can just live life by brute force, overpowering everyone and everything that stands in your way.

2. God helps those who help themselves.
I’ve met people who actually believe that this is a quote from Scripture. As a matter of fact, Jesus taught the exact opposite, that God has come to help us who are helpless and powerless. We can’t help ourselves.

3. Only the strong survive. The truth of the matter is, in life, the strong and weak alike, ultimately succumb and are overpowered by the forces of life. Like a wave, you can be overcome and overtaken in a moment.

4. The early bird catches the worm. This mythology grows out of the scarcity mentality that there is only so much and you need to get in the front of the line to get, have, and hoard from all those who are trying to get.

5. Early to bed and early to rise makes a person healthy, wealthy, & wise.
This comes from Ben Franklin and is contained in Poor Richard’s Almanac. And whenever I hear it I am tempted to say, “early to bed, early to rise makes a person tired.”

6. He is a self-made man. What a lie from beginning to end. No one is self-made. All of us stand on the shoulders of others. We are all living at the generosity of those God has brought into our lives. And ultimately we are all dependent on every good and perfect gift that comes down from God, according to the half-brother of Jesus, James.

7. If you can believe it, you can achieve it. This myth has enough truth in it to be dangerous. You can believe a lot of things that you can’t achieve. Just because you believe it doesn’t make it happen. I’m not sure you can do much if you don’t believe, but you have to be very careful what you put your belief in. We live in a time where belief is not our problem. We believe in everything and end up believing in nothing.

8. If you can dream it you can do it.
There are a lot of great dreams that need doing, a lot of wrongs that need righting, a lot of help for the helpless, and a lot of justice that needs to be served. But I can’t do it all just because I can dream it all.

9. If you’re not first you’re last.
This comes from that great theologian, Ricky Bobby from the movie, “Taladega Nights,” with the idea that we insist on being first in everything. The truth of the matter is, first doesn’t really matter to anyone. Just ask yourself who came in first in all of the Super Bowls of the nineties. I bet you don’t know.

10. If it is to be, it is up to me. Here is the bottom line. If you’re on the try-harder treadmill, get off. God has put you on this earth for a purpose. He has a calling on your life. And living under that calling is what Jesus said is the same as getting under the light burden of the easy yoke of God. All of us want to work harder and try our best. Trying is not our problem, but trying to the exclusion of understanding that we need God. Trying harder at work won’t fix everything. Trying harder at home won’t fix everything. But committing your way to God, trusting Him, believing He will act, and joining Him where he is acting is the secret.

Have a great week!


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