Free of Me – Why Life is Better When it’s Not About You.
This is the title of Sharon Hodde Miller’s new book and I knew the moment I saw it that joining her launch team was a divine appointment.
For the last year, God has been impressing that very phrase upon my heart, “It’s not about you.”
God moved us to a new church earlier this year, one that, at face value, didn’t meet MY needs. For several weeks I sulked and wrestled with God about it. The music is not my preferred style. There is no Sunday school program, only small groups. And what I thought should be a deal-breaker, no women’s ministry. But, again, it’s not about me.
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Sharon readily admits in Free of Me, “Occasionally my complaints are about the essentials, but most of them are purely preferential, and I am a master at framing my preference as essentials…Many of us view the church through a critical, me-centered lens, because we live in a culture shaped by consumerism.”
Um, yep! That has (praise God – past tense) been me.
Nine months after the fact, I can more clearly see now why God moved us out from where we were to where we are now. Not only is our son excited about and attending the Youth program (the biggest reason for our move), but God is challenging me and stretching me in ways not possible had we stayed.
I suspect I’m not the only one focused on me.
A quick scroll through Facebook or Instagram will highlight the many women in your church and community that are hyper-focused on self. Women borderline-obsessive about their body, their weight, their clothes, their home, their image…
This focus on self is causing great harm to the church and to our witness. As Sharon points out, “When our focus is on our own needs, our own preferences, and our own comforts, we will not love people in a way that resembles anything like the love of Jesus.”
And I want to love people like Jesus. I want our women to love people like Jesus too.
Free of Me will challenge and convict your women.
And it will challenge and convict you. It sure did me.
I got a little crazy with the yellow highlighter as I read through the chapters on Making Your Calling about You and Making Your Church about You.
Consider the following excerpt in light of women’s ministry: “By making my relationships and my ministry about me, my confidence was bound up in their successes and failures. A successful writing ministry [insert: women’s ministry] meant I had value. Successful friendships meant I was lovable. But the reverse was also true, which left me devastated and insecure.”
Can you relate? I can.
Despite the (false) assumption that you may need to don some steel-toed boots, Free of Me is filled with hope. Over and over, Sharon points the reader back to the cross, back to God, back to the Bible. Through personal stories and scripture, she implores us to raise our gaze. It’s a challenge that, if we accept it, will change the way we live our lives.
When we find a way to throw off the grave clothes of self that entangle us, we will be set free!
Free of Me is a great book for personal reading and for use in a small group study. Every chapter ends with Discussion Questions, a Focus Verse, and a Focus Prayer. There is also a Bible Study Guide for group facilitators available (link coming soon!).
At 14 chapters, you could cover 1 or 2 per week, depending upon the length of your discussion group time. Personally, if I had an hour to fill, I’d pace out the book club or Bible study book sessions like this:
Week 1 – Chapter 1 – Mirror Girl and Chapter 2 – Forgetting Myself
Week 2 – Chapter 3 – When You Make God about You
Week 3 – Chapter 4 – When You Make Family about You
Week 4 – Chapter 5 – When You Make Your Appearance about You
Week 5 – Chapter 6 – When You Make Your Possessions about You
Week 6 – Chapter 7 – When You Make Your Friendships about You
Week 7 – Chapter 8 – When You Make Your Calling about You
Week 8 – Chapter 9 – When You Make Your Church about You
Week 9 – Interlude and Chapter 10 – Praise: Why Loving God Sets Us Free
Week 10 – Chapter 11 – People: Why Loving Others Unleashes Us
Week 11 – Chapter 12 – Purpose: Why Your Freedom has a Form
Week 12 – Chapter 13 – Passion: Why the Humble are so Free
Week 13 – Chapter 14 – Forgetting Yourself without Neglecting Yourself and Epilogue: Too Small a Thing
In the battle against a culture that preaches, “you deserve it” and “your needs are paramount”, Free of Me dissects the lies and points readers toward the truth.
Note: Sharon has since released a 5-week Free of Me DVD kit and participants guide. If you choose the 5-week study, you will not need the book I’ve reviewed in this post. The book goes much more in-depth than the 5-week study.
May God use resources like this to point us back to Him and our true purpose.
Free of Me is available for purchase at Amazon. Click here to order.
Disclosure: I was a member of the Free of Me Launch Team and received a copy of this book for free. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.
One year ago: Is your event budget realistic?
Two years ago: Where should you go for your women’s ministry retreat?
Three years ago: Gathering Prayer Requests
Four years ago: Minty Thank You (Free Printable)