Counter-cultural: “Who I Am Today Is Because Of Myself And What I’ve Done”

  • “Happily married, financially stable, 750 credit score, and house owner at 18.”
  • “Who I am today is because of myself and what I’ve done.”

I don’t know about you, but I hear and see those phrases a lot. Whether it’s on social media, in my school, or within my friend group, our culture has developed this idea that where you are today–the house you own, the job you have, the amount of money you make–is because you got yourself there. In ways, this idea can bring a lot of guilt for others because we feel like we aren’t doing enough or are missing out on something greater we could be doing. However, I believe that I am not self made because the Bible tells us something different.

The Bible says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

This Bible verse tells us that every good thing—the job we have, the house we, the amount of money we make, the people in our lives, the school we go to—is a gift from God. We don’t receive those gifts because of the things we have done in our lives, but because of who Jesus is.

For me, I have always struggled with this idea when it came to by academic success. I believed I was the reason for my grades; the amount of time I spent doing homework or stayed after school was the sole reason I had success in school.

Gift: Placing specific people in our life to teach us

According to a study by The National Academics of Sciences Engineering Medicine, parents are the most important factor when it comes to the development of young children. Children rely on their guardians to help teach them the traits they need in their life. A specific person, chosen by God, was placed in your life to help you walk, talk, and read.  Whether you know it or not, your guardian is the first teacher in your life and you need that teacher to develop the most basic skills.

Similarly, God deliberately placed people in my life to show me what a hard-working person looks like. For example, my mom goes to work every day, participates in PTSA, and attends different events or activities I participate in. If it wasn’t for Jesus specifically placing my mom in my life to teach me what a hard-working person looks like, I wouldn’t know what that looks like.

God also put teachers in my life to help me develop the skills I need to do well in life, school, and on the ACT. He placed teachers who stayed after school to help me understand a concept and gave me resources to practice for the ACT. If it wasn’t for the teachers God placed in my life, I wouldn’t have developed the skills I needed to do well in school.

I believe that Jesus deliberately placed these teachers in our life because Jesus himself was a teacher, and continues to teach us through the Word.

Jesus was going through all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people (Matthew 4:23)


When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things (Mark 6: 34).


Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them (John 8:2).

Jesus understands the need for us to have teachers in our life to help us develop certain characteristics or traits because He was a teacher himself and saw the ways it impacted the lives of others. Our boasting should be in Jesus Christ, not because of what we’ve done, but because of what He’s done and will continue to do by placing specific people in our lives to teach us.

Gift: Perfect, planned characteristics

Jesus was, and is, the artist of the animals, the earth, and the people. However, Jesus told us in the Bible that we were his most prized possession (James 1: 18). He perfectly created us in his image and gave us certain characteristics to help us excel in the work that we were created to do on earth.

Jesus, knowing I would desire and excel in my school work, gave me specific characteristics to help me do that. He gave me the heart to want to learn more about his creation of mathematics, history, and English through my school work. He gave me the organization skills and time management skills to stay on top of my due dates. Jesus gave me characteristics to be patience while learning and perverseness during my trials or misunderstandings. He gave me the desire to work hard in everything I do.

These are the reasons I am successful in my school work. When Jesus created me He crafted me with specific characteristics so that I could do well in school, and He called it perfect.

You see, God placed a gift—people and characteristics in my life—so I could excel in school. I am not the reason for my grades. God deliberately established a plan for my life and the people in my life to help me be successful in school.

So instead of saying,

  • “Happily married, financially stable, 750 credit score, and house owner at 18.”
  • “Who I am today is because of myself and what I’ve done.”

Instead say,

“My success is not measured by the time I own my house, the credit score I have, or the person I marry, but because of what Jesus has done in my life and will continue to do in my life. He placed these gifts in my life so I cannot boast in myself, but in Him. Yes, I may have found my significant other at age 18, but it was a gift from Jesus. I am financially stable, but it was a gift from Jesus. I am a house owner at a young age, but it was a gift from Jesus.”  

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