Lately God has been inviting me to do more. More praying. More depending. More humbling. More listening. More looking to him for life, light, energy, wisdom, strength, and power.

Lately God has been prompting me to do less. Which is odd, because I spend a good chunk of my life preaching that people should do more. But it’s true. I’m learning to strive less. To push less. To raise my voice less. To think outcomes depend on me less.

Lately God has been teaching me to do things… differently. I’m learning that there are many things that I’m supposed to do, and that I’m going through the right motions—but my attitude while going through them disqualifies what I’m doing from having an eternal impact.

I’m talking about pride. Pride isn’t always a flagrant and pompous stench. In truth, pride is any attitude other than raw, white-knuckled dependence on God to do what only he can do. Walking humbly with our God means fostering a continuous awareness that flesh will always give birth to flesh—no matter how piously you dress it up, no matter how much prayer and fasting and Bible memory and “Standing on the promises” you slather on top of it. Only the Spirit of God can give birth to spirit, which is why even Jesus could honestly say, “The Son can do nothing by himself.” It’s why our hearts must beat, “without him I can do nothing.”

The irony is, when we try to do what only God can do, we succeed… sort of. We give birth to an Ishmael instead of an Isaac, a child born the ordinary way instead of born of the Spirit through the promise of God.

And honestly, that’s terrifying.