Just as we celebrate a toddler who is making progress in learning to walk, we are to celebrate our own progress. With toddlers, we focus on what they are doing well instead of dwelling on what they are not doing well. The same strategy will work well for us in learning to step into new areas of growth in our lives. Our gifts will get stronger as we praise our own accomplishments.
Even though most would agree with the above, it is not common to have this attitude toward ourselves.
Here are three reasons for this:
The belief that guilt and condemnation are necessary motivation tools – Many believe that if we don’t use guilt and condemnation to motivate ourselves, we might think we are okay and stop working on things.
The fear that celebration will only lead to pride – Pride doesn’t mean that we think we’re great; it means we think we are greater than other people. There is greatness in each one of us that is needed to make the world a better place.
The belief that God is not celebrating what we are doing, so why should we? – God is celebrating that Jesus died and took our place. Just as God celebrated Jesus on earth, He is celebrating those who believe in Jesus right now. (Note: If you doubt this, then I suggest feasting on teaching about the finished works of Jesus and about our new spiritual birth when we become born again. Joseph Prince has great material for this.)
Here are five compelling reasons for celebrating progress in your life:
It opens our eyes to where grace is manifesting in us – Paul states in Philippians 1:6 that he “is confident that He who has begun a good work in (us) will complete it.” We are not to have faith in our ability to perform well, we are to have faith in God’s ability to complete what He started in us and through us. It is a process, and celebration of progress reminds of this.
It helps silence the accuser’s voice of condemnation toward us – One of the most used weapons of the enemy is to tell us who we are not. As we celebrate progress in who we are and what we are growing in, we take a major step in silencing these accusations.
It creates momentum for us and gives us something to build on for the future – When David approached Goliath, he rehearsed his victories and celebrated his progress, and through this, he gained momentum in his life for the battle that he was facing at that moment.
It increases the joy of the Lord in our lives – When we see the joy of a family applauding a toddler learning to walk, we discern that an atmosphere of joy and gladness is vital for people to grow into their potential. The Bible says “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). We all desire more joy, and celebrating our progress is one more tool to increase our gladness. Try rejoicing over yourself as much as a family would over their toddler.
It will increase our celebration of others – “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Matthew 29:39). How we treat ourselves will be how we treat others. If we celebrate our own progress, we will celebrate the progress of others and then function in one of the most needed gifts – encouragement.
Here are examples of where I have celebrated my progress:
In my hope and joy
In my eating habits
In keeping heart connection with people
In resting and relaxing more
None of these are where I want them to ultimately be. There are times when I “fall” as I am trying to walk consistently in them, but I recognize I am doing better. Woo hoo! I celebrate myself.
Let me ask you this. What areas are you improving? Take a few moments to identify one or more places in your life where you can celebrate yourself. You really do have more successes than failures! You might not believe it, but if you consider areas where you have overcome and refused to give up, celebrating your progress will be easy!
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Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.