Whether you know it or not, God has a special calling for your life—a plan He wants you to know and pursue. However, the ego can keep you from God’s plan. If you have ever caught yourself behaving in a way that makes you cringe, then your ego is likely to blame. While there are many definitions of the ego, all being very complex, simply put the ego is the part of us that needs to feel special, the part of us that seeks approval, the part of us that feels lacking in some way. While most people hold the belief that having a big ego means you’re arrogant and over confident, it is not always relative to how much you love yourself. If you are feeling superior to others, then it is definitely your ego at play, but the ego also makes us feel inferior. The ego can be tricky to confront and manage. If we’re not careful, it will sneak up right behind us when we least expect it and before we know it, we’re acting in ways that are outside of God’s Will for us. These ways are not to our best benefit, but to our detriment. Here are five ways your ego is keeping you from God’s plan.
Focusing on Your Plan Over God’s Plan
Many of us get caught up in trying to figure out what our lives are supposed to look like, but not according to God’s Will, but our will for our lives. Even if you don’t have a formal plan, you have a life plan in your head. We all do. We have an imagined future in our heads. Planning isn’t always a bad thing. Without plans, little of enduring value gets accomplished. But the reality is, there are many times God’s plan is not in line with our personal life plan. In fact, there are many times when God intentionally messes up your life plan, for good. A big sign that your ego is getting in the way of God’s plan is when you feel you must have everything figured out before you make a move. When you do this, you’re moving according to your plan, not God’s plan.
If you were to ask the ego to rank its greatest fears, change would reach the top spot. When your ego is in charge, you love comfort and status quo. It should come as no surprise that Jesus’ first sermon is “Repent!” (Mark 1:15), which means “change your mind.” The ego hates this message. But it’s difficult to explain away Jesus’ desire for us to change. Most ego-centric people will project the message onto a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend, or a life’s circumstance. As long as the ego can find someone else to change, it’s off the hook. The truth is, there are a lot of things we will do that our uncomfortable. Sometimes, God’s plan for your life will not be comfortable. But when you refuse to accept where God is directing you because you’re afraid of being uncomfortable, the ego is at play.
Minimizing Sins of the Heart
Contrary to God’s Will for your life, the ego minimizes sins of the heart and focuses on sins of the flesh. Because your ego is formed by external stuff (validation, opinions, jobs, education), it focuses on eliminating external sins, the ones you tangibly measure. So all the types of sexual sin (sex before marriage, porn addiction, prostitution), church attendance and right theology become the measure of a true Christian. The truth is, Jesus knows external sins are shadows of true transformation, and we’re merely reshuffling the deck until we address what’s underneath. Greed, envy, pride, prejudice and vanity affect the heart. They also keep us from God’s plan for us. Unfortunately, society not only accepts these sins, but also celebrates them.
Constant “I” and “Me” Statements
One of the biggest ways to let the ego take place in front of God is the use of “I” and “Me” statements. The ego has a need to feel special and is reluctant to give others praise and credit, including God. We begin to place all credit on our personal accomplishments, over God’s direction. Your ego, your flesh, your false self needs to feel separate and special. It needs the spotlight and isn’t afraid to manipulate people, even God to attract attention. The ego says, “Look what I’ve done. See what I’ve accomplished.” The ego can and often will stand in place of God’s voice. We are much better off when we begin our thoughts by speaking to the Lord and using the word “you” in the beginning of the thought.
Are you a people pleaser? Thinking you have to constantly please everyone in every way so they’ll like you or be happy with you is the wrong motivation. Nothing’s wrong with having the desire to help people, but when you feel the need to impress or place all your energy into making that person happy, there’s a problem. There’s no need to make an impression on anyone but God. When you’re helping people with pure motives, you’re helping whether they appreciate you or not. People pleasing is often doing things the person wants and helping them often means doing the things that they need. If you always do what someone wants, you’re operating from your ego.
The ego places our will above God’s Will and our plan above God’s plan. Jesus taught us that the greatest commandments were to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and to our love our neighbor as our self (Matthew 22:37, 39). When we strive to keep these commandments, we take the focus off ourselves and place it where it should be – on God and helping others. In the Christian life, devoid of ego, the “I will” becomes “Thy Will.” Trust God’s will for your life.
Lesli White is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth with a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications and a concentration in print and online journalism. In college, she took a number of religious studies courses and harnessed her talent for storytelling. White has a rich faith background. Her father, a Lutheran pastor and life coach was a big influence in her faith life, helping her to see the value of sharing the message of Christ with others. She has served in the church from an early age. Some of these roles include assisting ministry, mutual ministry, worship and music ministry and church council.