Pulling Yourself Up by Your Bootstraps?


We’re supposed to pull ourselves up by them, right? Work hard, be persistent, do whatever it takes, but the message is clear—your success is yours, and yours alone.

I remember wondering as a kid, in that stage where you take such things literally, how you were supposed to pull yourself up by tugging on your own clothing. It’s physically impossible, of course—even a child knows that.

Pulling yourself up requires a lot more than one’s own bootstraps. Of course you need strength, balance, and determination, and it’s a lot easier if you develop skills required to generate leverage and momentum. That’s all the stuff you bring to the game with hard work, training, and perseverance.

But none of it will do you a bit of good without a place to stand.

No matter how much we pretend, none of us stands independently. We’re all wherever we are because countless individuals worked to provide a place for us to stand.

Sometimes we can identify them specifically—parents, grandparents, teachers, or mentors. More often they’re nameless, the folks we never meet who sacrificed to build the communities in which we live.

To paraphrase the idea in Deuteronomy 6:11, we drink from wells we did not dig and sit in the shade of trees we did not plant.

We stand in the light of salvation we didn’t, and can’t, earn.

Might be a good thing to remember the next time we’re tempted to claim we pulled ourselves up by our own bootstraps.

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Copyright 2008-2013 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

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