I still remember the words of a successful agent at a writer’s conference. He said, “Money changes people. I’ve only met a couple of Christian writers who haven’t been negatively affected by success.”
That’s a little scary.
Everyone tells us to pursue our dreams, but no one tells us to make sure we keep God first while pursuing them.
I’ve only been blogging for a little over a year this time around, but it didn’t take long to see how easy it would be to make writing an idol.
Living the American Dream
If you’re pursuing a goal, you know what I mean. It’s easy to become consumed by it. And while the goal itself might be wonderful–a way to love God and others–it still has the potential to mess us up. If we’re not careful, it will lead us away from God.
God has convicted me that this is something I need to work on in my own life once again, so I thought I might as well blog about it! Future posts will deal with how to break free from idolatry. But before we can break free, we need to know what our idols are.
I’ve been talking about the idolatry of a goal, but there are a million different potential idols out there: recreation, exercise, work, the Internet, relationships, approval of others, excitement, television, food, and avoiding conflict, just to name a few.
Here are a few questions to help you determine whether or not you have any idols:
Do You Have an Idol? – Quiz
- What do you feel like you have to have to be happy?
- What do you think about in the middle of the night or when you first wake up in the morning?
- What do you spend a lot of your time on each day?
- What do you worry about?
- What would you have a hard time giving up for a month?
- What makes you stressed out and/or depressed?
- What do you do when you’re stressed out and/or depressed?
- What do you do to avoid doing the things you don’t want to do?
- In what areas of your life, do you experience your greatest struggles?
- Where do your feelings of self worth come from?
- What do you escape to when you’re having a hard time in life?
- What do people tell you that you spend too much time on?
- What do you hide from others?
- What do you talk about too much?
- What could you not live without?
When you finish answering the questions, glance back over your answers. Do you see anything popping up more than once on the list? The more often you see it on your list, the more likely it’s an idol.
If a big category keeps coming up again and again such as writing or working, do the questions again to see if you can find out what aspects of that category are giving you trouble.
For example, let’s say writing kept coming up on the list. What do you feel like you have to have as a writer to be happy? What parts of writing do you think about in the middle of the night? What parts of writing do you spend too much time on and why do you spend too much time on it?
You might discover it’s the reward part of writing that’s an idol. Or the people pleasing part. Or it could be fairness or wanting it to be easy. There are a number of idol possibilities under the umbrella of those bigger categories.
Breaking Free from Idolatry Blog Post Series
Once we’ve identified our idols, the next step is to work on getting rid of those idols. Click here to see a list of all the “Breaking Free from Idolatry” posts. These posts will walk you through the process of how to get rid of idols.
I’ve also written a book since I published this post that will help with breaking free from idolatry. It’s called The Renewing of the Mind Project . This is a book about breaking free from bad habits, recurring sin, and negative emotions and also a book about how to start good habits and accomplish scary or hard goals. Even though it’s not a book about letting go of idols, it will help you let go of your idols as our negative emotions and bad habits often reveal our idols, as does our reluctance to work on our goals.
Question: Do you think idolatry is prevalent in the church today? Does your church provide much instruction on how to break free from it?