When in High school and the university, time and again men and women came to give us talks on success. I bet you also can surely relate to this. They would tell us how they worked their way up the cooperate ladder. They would stress on how humbly they began their journey and sometimes with exaggerations. Come to think about it; the script was the same. These men and women would tell us how poor they were, and by sheer hard work, they got a job. In between their poverty and richness, they filled their stories with dramatic mixes and turns. Oh, boy, they were good speakers. We in uniforms at the hall would look at them and listen with deed thought. Lingering in my mind till this day is that, they were introduced as ‘self-made (fill in the blank)”
Growing up, I was a fun of talk shows. I would watch great businessmen and women on air. I would listen with a pen and paper in my hand to interviews with successful people on television. They were always referred to as ‘self-made”. I wanted that. I wanted to be a self-made rich man who is successful in my field. While at school, I had few to no close friends because I would lock myself up to study. I worked hard to see that I pass with flying colours and go to university. I did businesses on the side as I was on campus to boost my income. I want to pay my college fees without anyone’s help so that one day I would confidently say to people that I am a self-made man.
The self-made man statue
A bronze statue, by sculptor Bobbie Carlyle, of a muscular man chipping himself out of a block of stone with a hammer and chisel is a perfect picture of the idea of a self-made man. The statue shows that the already chipped parts of the man are perfect—his face, hair, six-packs, chiselled hands. The hummer and the chisel show us how he is working painfully hard to take off the heavy and stuck stones on him by himself. The stone here represents the baggage the man carries, and now he is chipping himself out of it.
The self-made man ideology reduces man to an individual who is self-centred and egotistic that all he needs and wants to achieve; he will do it by himself. He is encouraged by sayings like, “get rich or die trying.” The end goal to amerce wealth or success and proud-fully to flaunt it out. This kind of person is what the world considers as an icon, the epitome of humankind.
God made man for him.
God made us, we didn’t make ourselves, and we will never make ourselves (Genesis 1:27). God before the foundation of this world determined every single step we are taking, and we will ever take (Proverbs 16:9). Even when we think we are making steps by ourselves, it is God who directs each and every one of them (Jeremiah 10:23). He has determined our history, boundaries and even our dwelling place (Acts 17:26). Here is where we begin. That we are not autonomous, whether we agree with it, or not. God is determining every single thing in our individual lives. Even when things are hard, he is working behind the senses to make things happen, look at Joseph’s life.
God creates us and directs us. He also made us for himself. Without him, nothing was made that has been made (John 1:3) and all of it is for him (Colossians 2:26). For him meaning that all things including you and I belong to God (Deuteronomy 10:14).
And secondly, for him mean that all things, including you and I are made for the purpose of God, for the excellent use of God (Romans 8:28). That said it is worth concluding that we are all instruments of God, same of us are vessels of wrath and other vessels of mercy (Romans 9:22-23). So who is best fit to chisel us, God or ourselves? Since we are created by God, to belong to God for the purpose of God, then God must be the one chipping us into his desired shape (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
God uses the family and community to make the man.
God saw Adam in the garden of Eden, and he said it is not good for a man to be alone. This saying is as true to marriage as is it to fellowship. No man is an island, so they say. God made us with the internal need for community. The need for a community doesn’t want to be satisfied by being together, but to be part of a people that shared principles and goals. These principles are encouraged among the members that community from their earliest of age to their old age. The community, therefore, is said to be raising and making its people.
In other words, God makes people, and God uses people to make people as God makes them all. The proverb goes, iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). The family is the basic unit that God uses to raise men and women. God has charged both parents, especially the father, with the responsibility of training and teaching the children (Deuteronomy 11:19). Success is not in what you have materially, but how you are spiritual. Hence well-raised children are a crown of old age (Proverbs 27:6).
The reason we have institutions like churches and schools are for the sole purpose of training the community. They make who we are. Therefore from the family level as a community, we are responsible for one another, we are each brother’s keeper (Genesis 4:9). We are supposed to encourage each other as long as it is today (Hebrews 4:13). No other statement is befitting here than lousy company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33) you are who you hang around with.
“I always tell people that you can call me anything that you want but don’t ever, ever call me a self-made man. I came over here with absolutely nothing… twenty dollars in the pocket and some sweaty clothes in a gym bag. But let me tell you that I had this little apartment and on thanksgiving bodybuilders from the gym came to my apartment and they brought me pillows, dishes, silverware all the things that I didn’t have. None of us can make it alone, none of us, not even the guy that is talking to you right now…..
I always tell people to call me anything that you want, but don’t ever, ever call me a self-made man. It gives the wrong impression that we can do it alone. None of us can; the whole concept of a self-made man or woman is a myth. I would have never made it in my life without help, so I don’t believe in the self-made man, I want you to understand this because as soon as you understand that you are here because of a lot of help, then you will also understand that now is the time to help others…” Arnold Schwarzenegger,
Are you drowned into the idea of making yourself as I was? Are you turning yourself to be a self-made whatever? Remember, Jesus said, if you want to be his disciple (one who follows his example) you must deny yourself (Mark 8:34). You can only come out of this hamster wheel by merely surrendering to God, acknowledging that he is the Lord (master) of your life, and turning from all your ways to all of his ways. The self-made man indeed is a myth that can never stand so long as heaven and earth exist.