by Nicole Kelp, Resonate WSU staff
I love Wonder Woman. I sometimes wish I could be like her. When I watched Wonder Woman in theaters, I was instantly drawn to the main character, Diana- she’s strong, graceful, courageous, and powerful. But as the plot carries on, we learn she’s not only tough as nails, but compassionate and kind as well. Diana never loses sight of her larger mission to stop the bad guys, but she always makes time to stop and help those in need, even against the wishes of her comrades. Seriously, I wish I could be like Diana.
But alas, I am no Wonder Woman. Like most of us, I’m not quite as good at getting things done. I’m often plagued by passivity and don’t actually do what I can to help people.
I think our entire society can relate. We idolize superheroes, Navy SEALs, Mother Teresa - whoever it is, real or fictional, past or present. We look at people who accomplished something great and helped others, and we wish we could be like them. But if you and I are not careful, we’ll find ourselves 5, 10, 20 years down the road with a story plagued by passivity and missed opportunities to be who God calls us to be. We know what God has called us to- to love our neighbors (Mark 12:31) and sacrifice ourselves for others- but we just aren’t that good at doing it.
So where does this passivity come from? And what can we do about it?
Rather than dealing with the symptoms, it’s important to examine the root cause of our inaction. Passivity stems from one of two heart issues, whether independently or together: laziness or selfishness. How can we diagnose where our passivity is coming from?
1. Passivity due to laziness
If you tell people you’re busy, but constantly find yourself with hours to waste on your TV or phone, you’re really just being lazy. Practically, you value comfort over accomplishing things that matter. You are too focused on temporal personal satisfaction to be effectively used by God to advance His Kingdom.
2. Passivity due to selfishness
Maybe you actually are busy. Maybe you’re not lying when you say you don’t have time to help someone. But what are you busy with? What are you prioritizing? Even school, work, or other seemingly good tasks can be selfish if you’re prioritizing them for your own personal gain. Who are you always willing to make time for- yourself, or others?
Once we know the root of our passivity, we can begin to address it. Beyond Wonder Woman, my real hero is Jesus. Wonder Woman may inspire me, but Jesus empowers me to change. How can we turn to Jesus for help to overcome our passivity?
1. Look to Jesus’ example
Our God doesn’t sit in an ivory tower and command us to love our neighbor. He came to Earth to show us how it’s done. Jesus left his own personal comfort in heaven to become homeless on Earth. He spent hours with people, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, talking with the lonely. But He also took time away to rest with God. He had the wisdom to balance His life well. He took naps, but He didn’t use tiredness as an excuse to not help His friends when they were scared (Mark 4:35-41). He had a mission- to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). That mission manifested itself in so many ways, from mourning with his friends, to showing love to small children, to dying on a cross to redeem the world. Jesus never let laziness or selfishness keep Him from caring for others.
2. Ask the Holy Spirit for help
Beyond showing us how to love people, Jesus wants to help us do that. He sent the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom, guidance, and strength (John 14:26, Acts 1:8). If we’re struggling with laziness, choosing our personal comfort over loving others, we can pray for the Holy Spirit to give us strength to overcome our flesh’s desires and choose what is right. If we’re struggling with time management, not sure when to agree to help someone or to rest with God, we can pray for the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and insight into the situation. If we’re struggling with selfishness, prioritizing tasks that help ourselves but don’t help others, we can pray for the Holy Spirit to soften our heart so that we want to serve others.
3. Ask your Christian community for help
We can’t try to overcome passivity on our own. We need our community to gather around us and help us dig up the roots of our passivity, pray with us, encourage us, and hold us accountable to actually loving our neighbor. My husband and I have a family motto: “Mission over comfort.” If I’m ever choosing my own comfort over the mission of showing God’s love to others, then my husband only has to say those three words to help remind me to fight my passivity and choose to do what is right. It’s incredibly helpful to have him and my friends help me fight my passivity.
I’ll never be like Wonder Woman. But thankfully, I’m called to be like Jesus. And fortunately, Jesus wants to help me get there. I have the Holy Spirit to help me overcome my laziness and selfishness, to give me strength to fight my flesh and wisdom to prioritize the right things. With God’s help, I can put my passivity to death and be the active, courageous, loving, Christ-like woman He has made me to be.