Not Under, Over, From or For but With {Book Club}

As I read chapter 7 on the fear of not being significant in What Women Fear by Angie Smith I thought of three things:

  1. How many of us are afraid we what we are doing isn’t significant enough or interesting enough.
  2. The movies I’m drawn to — most of them have a theme of someone making a difference with their life. Latest favorite: McFarland USA.
  3. One of the best books I read last year: With by Skye Jethuni.

What draws me to McFarland is the way Coach White grows during the movie. He didn’t come to “save the kids he taught,” setting himself up as the hero. Did he want more for them, yes. But he also saw his own need. Many movies I am drawn to plays into the idea of being significant.

I do believe there is a place for significance, but am trying to wean myself from being the hero. I love this scene.

One of the most helpful books as I’ve been in the process of being reprogrammed in this areas is With by Skye Jethuni. This Amazon customer summary is spot on:

“I just finished reading Skye Jethani’s latest book entitled With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God. I am trying not resort to hyperbole, but this book was really life changing. In the book Jethani examines five ways most people relate to God. There is life under God, over God, from God and for God. With the possible exception of over God, all of these sound great and they are to some degree, however they can each represent a very unhealthy relationship. And all of them are to one degree or another about fear and control.

“People living life under God live in Live to appease God through ‘strict obedience to moral and ritual commands.’ This sounds good except at its core is an attempt to control God and our conditions through our obedience.

“People living life over God see themselves as managers, and ‘autonomous beings who have been given a divine manual for operating my life and world and whose fate will ultimately rest upon how well I implement God’s principles and instructions.’ Again this is an effort to control. We don’t have to pray, we don’t have to depend on God we can just do the right thing and ensure that God will always make things go well.

“People living from God fall into consumer Christianity, seeing God as a celestial Santa Claus who we use to get what we want. This is the shortest way to center of the universe syndrome where everything including God revolves around me.

“People who live life for God see themselves as servants, ‘workers created to fulfill a great mission.’ Their ‘sense of value is inexorable linked to what (they are) able to accomplish and the magnitude of (their) impact on the world.’

“My confession is I have been all of those people at one point or another and have lately been life for God and it has been miserable at times because it generates a picture of God not as loving Father but as Father who can never be pleased. This is a false picture and not what God wants. God wants us in the fifth way, Life With God.”


Such a good book. I used it last summer when I worked with a group of interns for a summer project. They were gung-ho to do things for God, as I imagine are many of us :). You’ll need to read the book to tease all five positions out. But how much freer would be be if we realized that God’s heart desire is for us to do life with him?! Will it at time have elements of being under, for, or from God? Yes, but the heart of being with him is a game changer!

So, that’s what I thought of as I read this chapter. Sports movies and books :). What did this chapter stir up for you?


P.S. Next week we’ll finish the book with chapters 8-10. I’m working on our summer and fall reading and will announce them in two weeks so you have time to track down books in any form you want! Let’s just say, I’m excited with the variety and have looked really hard for books that are not expensive, come in paperback and e-versions, and have themes we want to talk about :). AND some books I haven’t read. I can’t wait!!!! (the amount of exclamation points show how excited I am.)

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  1. Beth Everett April 18, 2016

    LOVE the book by Skye Jethani – With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God! Read it a couple of years ago and continue to be impacted by it.

    We know in theory that we are to find our significance in Christ alone; and yet how true it is that we are so quickly caught up in the world’s definition of success and fulfillment. Appreciated the picture she drew here:

    “So we sit at the table and we look at those around us with eyes of competition and jealousy. We wrongly believe that we are in a race with them for the affections of our Savior and the praise of our fellow man.” (Followed by Jesus’ words from Luke 22:25-27 about being the servant).

    Later she says: “I have met the maidservant of Christ in many faces and I have reveled at the peace that accompany those who care not to be seated.” 

    So true! When I think of those whom I admire most in their walk with God, and who are making a true, lasting, even if sometimes quiet impact, they are those who serve, not caring for accolades.

    Part of her closing prayer: “… All of us long to be used by You and to reject the world’s notion of success, but it is a challenge. Remind us daily that You know what it is like to be a servant, and to submit to the will of the Father…”


    1. Brittany April 19, 2016

      Yes! Those were things that stuck out to me too. I struggle so much with seeing those in the same line of work around the world and thinking everyone else’s work is so much more significant than mine. I mean, I don’t even know what mine is yet, other than taking care of my babies. Why does that seem lesser? (Maybe I’m still having a hard time shaking the words I’ve been told about how I’m throwing away my education to stay home with my kids…) I know it isn’t true, but I find those feelings sneaking in sometimes.

      1. Amy Young April 19, 2016

        Those voices/messages can be so hard to ignore! As you come to mind Brittany, I’ll be praying for a mute button on them :). What you are doing matters … but it is important to remind each other of this, isn’t it?!

    2. Amy Young April 19, 2016

      I just finished another great book (I don’t think it was by a Christian, but it could have been. It wasn’t a “Christian” book per se) called Give and Take by Adam Grant. He looks at takers—who have their own interest at heart, matchers—who take and give with an eye to “fairness,” and givers—who have others interests at heart (the book was so good. You can be a giver without being a pushover and also looking for your interests).

      Anyway, I’m trying to look for ways to be less of a matcher and move of a giver :).

  2. Sarah Hilkemann April 19, 2016

    The “With” book sounds really good! As you described the different prepositions, I was thinking that in my desire for significance I often use those in the way I relate to their people too. Am I over this person, or below them? Do I spend all my time doing things for people in order to gain their approval or trying to get something from them to feel better about myself? None of these are really healthy options. Like in the story that Angie used in the beginning of this chapter, when the disciples were arguing over who was the greatest, often we ask, “Who is the favorite, Jesus?” I think understanding our true significance in our relationship with Jesus can also help us to be in right relationship with people around us- walking alongside, encouraging rather than competing, “withing” I guess you could say. 🙂

    1. Amy Young April 19, 2016

      Oh Sarah I like this! What a difference it would make if we “with” with each other instead of (internally) jockeying “am I over, under, for, or getting something from” you? With is scary, but smells of so much more life to me!!!

  3. Brittany April 19, 2016

    This line was huge for me this week:

    We struggle with significance because we want to know that we are living out our purpose, being obedient to what we have been called to do.

    I can’t tell you how many times this past few weeks I’ve begged God to show me which way to go, what to do, because I’m so afraid of making the wrong choice. I want to do what God wants me to do. I want to fulfill His purposes for me. This is what God has been revealing to me from the retreat and this chapter. Good timing. 😉 And in my searching for the significance God has for me, this other quote resonates:

    We are significant in our insignificance, urged to have the faith of a child and the heart of a servant.

    I am to rest in my insignificance knowing that I matter to my Jesus. He will lead me as I keep pursuing Him. And as I love others and serve them, I am fulfilling His purposes for me.

    1. Brittany April 19, 2016

      Oh, and I need to add to that last line…even if it’s only my toward my husband and children!

    2. Amy Young April 19, 2016

      Brittany, as I read this, I am stirred with compassion for you 🙂 … so I can only imagine how much MORE God is stirred in his love for you!! Being “so afraid of making the wrong choice” doesn’t feel very life giving and we know that Jesus said he came to set the captives free. He doesn’t want you to be enslaved to your fears of making the wrong choice :). He loves you and if you really are going to make a wrong choice, this is where he promises the Holy Spirit is will us and will give us his help and discernment.

      Loving your husband and kids is good :). Knowing you are loved by your heavenly father is also good :).

  4. Jodie April 19, 2016

    This was probably my favorite chapter in the book. My heart resonated with a lot of what she shared, as well as with the other comments shared here. The book “With” sounds like a good one to read too. I haven’t heard of it before.

    Watching the movie clip made me think of my daughter’s cross country meets last fall. I heard a wide variety of comments yelled at the runners by coaches, parents, etc. some encouraging, some critical… My favorite was the line the mom of the best runner on the team always called out (quietly) to her daughter, “Run your race.” Don’t worry about everyone else and your position. Find your pace and do your best.

    And I thought about Brene Brown’s analogy of the arena. Do we care too much about those whose opinions shouldn’t even matter?

    What does it mean to focus on our audience of one? And to believe that He is for us, no matter how well or how poorly we perform. We are His, and His love for us never changes.

    1. Amy Young April 19, 2016

      Well you touched on about everything I love :). Good parenting, sports, Brene Brown, and the Audience of One.

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