Well, this is a rather uncharacteristic blog post for me, because I’m not typically one to publicly address hot topics or give my two cents on the most recent explosive stories.
But this subject is burning on my heart, and I feel compelled to say something.
There has been quite the uproar this past week due to some videos put on social media by a well-known influencer – Rachel Hollis – who has become wildly popular the past few years. Her books and messages have been embraced both inside and outside of Christian circles. I’ve been looking into and keeping an eye on Rachel’s work for quite some time, and at has been an increasing point of concern for me; it doesn’t take too much digging to realize just how unbiblical and damaging many of the ideas she promotes can be (just take a few minutes to look up “Rachel Hollis quotes” and you’ll see what I mean). But I’ve never felt the need to talk about it in a public way until now.
There are plenty of other places you can read in detail about her overall platform (you can read two of those articles HERE and HERE), as well as her most recent debacle, so I don’t feel the need to go into all that in this post. But I do want to address just one aspect of the whole issue that I believe gets at the core of what is so off about this theme of self-promotion she champions (and I am going to do my very best to represent this accurately and concisely).
To set the stage: Apparently Rachel was doing a live video (which I didn’t see), and mentioned that she has a lady come regularly to clean her house, which was met with a good deal of pushback. One critic made the comment that this made Rachel “unrelatable” to the average woman. In response, Rachel made a video (which has since been removed from her IG, but which I believe is still circulating online) saying that she doesn’t want to be relatable to the average person; that this is actually one of her motivating factors for how hard she works. She listed several well-known women in the caption of her video whom she admires, and who, she said, are also unrelatable, seeming to compare herself to them (although she did come out with a statement afterward saying that wasn’t her intention).
The first woman on that list was Harriet Tubman.
Now, as I’ve been pondering these two women—Rachel and Harriet—the stark contrast between their lives and why they are well-known is why I felt prompted to write this.
In essence, Rachel has built her platform and reputation on promoting self-love, encouraging others to put themselves first and push their own agenda, and doing whatever it takes to reach the top of the worldly success ladder. Now, is there a place for some of the encouragement she offers about working hard and sticking at things? Yes. But the problem lies in the foundation and end goal of her message: Me. My life. My success. My happiness. To sum it up in a personal quote she posted on her IG feed:
“This is your life. You are meant to be the hero of your own story.”1
But Harriet Tubman? She is most known for putting herself in harm’s way and facing death again and again so others might be free. When ease and comfort could have been a reality for her, she intentionally put herself back in danger, demonstrating sacrificial love for those still in slavery. She chose to put others ahead of herself when she could have easily justified a decision to stay put in her own freedom. What has caused her to be so respected and “unrelatable” in the eyes of others is not that she pursued the top of the ladder, but her jaw-dropping willingness to lay down her life for others instead. She allowed her story to be used by God for far greater purposes than her own happiness, and it is for that reason she has been revered by millions.2
As Christian women, our ultimate achievement is not wealth, it’s not prominence, it’s not putting ourselves first or making ourselves the hero of our own story by whatever means necessary: It is lifting high the Name of Jesus. It is taking His example, being willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of loving and serving others out of love for God. It is our immense privilege and should be our utter joy to put everything on the line to advance His Kingdom and exalt Him as the Hero of our story and every story.
This is what we were made for. And there is no better way to live.
Following Jesus’ Example
Mark 10:42-45 says this about a conversation Jesus had with his disciples:
“And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Philippians 2:3-4 says,
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others as more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
This passage then goes on to say that we do this because of the example Jesus set for us (v. 5-11).
Is it bad to have nice things? No. Is it wrong to enjoy the physical blessings God allows us to have? Also no. Is it sinful to receive reward for hard work? No again. We should receive these as good gifts from a loving Heavenly Father. But these should not be our ultimate pursuit. If our primary goal is achieving worldly gain and surrounding ourselves with comfort and happiness, we will find that we have made them into idols that cannot ever satisfy.
Most of the world probably won’t esteem or understand when we choose to let go of opportunities that would bring us more ease and comfort in this life when we do so for the sake of love and obedience to our Savior. It will seem crazy to some that we would willingly serve others at our own expense to proclaim that Jesus is worthy of everything. But there will be those who stand back in awe at this example, because there is truth written on all of our hearts that this is actually the most fulfilling, beautiful, eternally satisfying way to live, whether we acknowledge it or not. This is the reason that stories like Harriet Tubman’s strike a chord with believers and unbelievers alike.
My heart aches to see Rachel Hollis and others who have embraced this self-seeking life “turn [their] eyes upon Jesus,” and “ look full in His wonderful face.” Because when we do this, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”3
There is nothing more satisfying or fulfilling than living for our Savior, because (in the words of the Westiminster Shorter Catechism) our chief end is “to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”4 The pursuit of anything else will leave us empty, despairing, and desperate for something more. But, oh, we have that something more. We have Jesus. And may we as Christian women be faithful to proclaim that message to the world.
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