Who do you worship?
It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? As a follower of Jesus, my automatic answer is “the Lord,” of course. But while I like to think that’s the case, there have been more times than I care to admit that my actions speak a different story.
The word “worship” has, in the western church at least, somehow become synonymous with music and singing. Which is an act of worship, but it’s certainly not the entire act. Worship is reverence. To worship something or someone is to recognize its value, authority, and to give it praise. To bow down and demonstrate your loyalty, affection, and obedience.
Worship is such a beautiful thing when we direct it towards God. There are many different types of worship. Worshipping can be surrendering your will and giving up control to God. Tithing is an act of worship. Posting on social media, singing on Sunday, or spending time in the word are all acts of worship. There’s no exact formula to worship. It is a heart posture and a way of interacting with the God who created you.
We were created to worship. Intentionally or not, we are almost always in a state of worship. Our minds, hearts, and focus is fixed on something, and a lot of the time, it’s not what we want it to be.
Work can become an idol just as quickly as a relationship can or even the idea of one. Sometimes it’s not something tangible in our lives, but the desire to have it that is so overpowering and overwhelming. This can quickly get out of control and become an unhealthy pattern of dedication and reverence to things that don’t deserve it.
It’s not that success or love or any other goal you may have is a bad thing. But they need to stay in their lane. Regardless of what it is, any worldly goal that becomes the pinnacle of your happiness, value, or identity is going to lead you away from God.
I’ll be honest with you – I grew up in the church, and I heard this message preached over and over and over again.
Be careful what you worship.
What do you idolize in your life?
Are you putting your relationships ahead of your relationship with God?
It wasn’t something I saw as a significant struggle in my own life until a few years ago. My career was finally taking off, I started seeing myself differently. I found my worth in work, being a writer, and achieving my dreams. It sounds ridiculous now, but it meant so, so very much to me.
And then I realized what was happening.
Writing wasn’t the problem. It wasn’t what I was doing for work, or even the fact that I was successful. The first thing I would do every morning is open my laptop before I’d even had a chance to breathe. I was working 12-15 hour days because I wanted to, falling asleep with my iPad next to me and the cursor still blinking.
Needless to say, my relationship with God was not at the forefront of my mind or schedule. I soon began feeling the effects of my lifestyle. When I figured out that these bad habits were taking me down a negative road, I quickly began to pivot. I recreated routines in my life, this time starting with Jesus and adding in the rest of life instead of the other way around.
It took a long time to reset, start over, and put things back together – and it’s not perfect now, but it’s coming. Since then, I’ve tried to be intentional about regularly checking in with myself to see what my priorities really are and how my life reflects them.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a mindblowing revelation.
See, every talk, book, or article I’ve ever consumed on the topic of idols and worship has encouraged the reader to look for idols in their own life. Social media, people, various achievements, etc. – what things are you worshipping instead of God?
But what I realized was that I wasn’t idolizing those things. I wasn’t worshipping social media, my relationship, or my career. I wasn’t putting those goals ahead of God —
I was putting myself ahead of God.
Every one of those focuses were about making me feel and look good, helping me stand out, making me happy. I didn’t want to succeed at writing because writing was elevated above all else, I wanted it because I wanted to be elevated.
Recognizing this in myself has been a game changer. Identifying the ways in which this has affected my choices and actions, relationships, and habits has allowed me to see that this issue runs much deeper than I thought it did.
Over and over, scripture reinforces the idea of dying to yourself. Bearing your own cross, renouncing what you have, becoming less so that He may become greater.
And I was doing the opposite.
Oof – it’s been a very conviction-filled couple of weeks.
God is good. God is forgiving. God is kind. Even more, He’s a redeemer. Something I’ve found to be true in both my spiritual life and personal development is that it is almost impossible to break habits, change patterns, and find freedom from sin without acknowledging it. The recognition is step one, and it’s a pretty big deal.
In some capacity or another, I think we all make the same mistake. We choose us. We choose our strength, our way, and our preference, forgetting that God’s way is always the best way.
It’s a hard lesson to learn. The rhythm of choosing grace and choosing God needs to be a daily one, and without consciously working on it, can get lost in a culture that pushes us to focus on our own wants above all else.
Don’t get me wrong – self-care is important, and being in touch with what you need will actually equip you better for Kingdom work. But God has to be first. He doesn’t screw you over, play games, or lead you down a path of destruction. You can trust and feel safe living with God.
In this next season of new beginnings, I invite you to join me in re-evaluating the habits, patterns, and priorities in your life. Examine the areas that might need a refocus, and be honest with yourself about what you dedicate your time and energy to.
God is good, all the time – and keeping Him at the center of your life will never, ever lead you down a bad path. May we as women reclaim our lives. Going into this new year, may we live for the Lord, pursue holiness, righteousness, and grace in all things.
To read more from Anika, visit her website.