Rachel Hollis and the Gospel of Me
*This blog post is a follow-up to Episode 152 of the Provoke & Inspire Podcast: “Rachel Hollis and the Age of Me - Featuring Courtney and Jodi Pierce."*
To listen to the full episode click here.
Picture by @jackrobertphotography
Since reading the book Grit by Angela Duckworth, I’ve been on a self-improvement kick. I naturally gravitate to goal setting and time management, but lately this interest has become something of an obsession.
On the surface, it seems harmless—after all, wanting to make the most of our lives is good! But as with any idea, there can be a dark side.
The apostle Paul offers up a warning when he reminds us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” In my experience, being conformed happens without effort; it’s being transformed that takes intentionality.
As followers of Jesus, we need to regularly assess what voices we are listening to and root out any ideas that are contrary to the truth we find in scripture. Too often we compartmentalize our faith and assume that God’s imperatives are limited to the confines of church buildings and superficial moral behavior.
The truth is, God has a plan for EVERY area of our lives, and since He created us and He is good, we’d be wise to listen to Him and not the myriad voices all around us.
This brings me to Rachel Hollis - the modern queen of successful living.
Rachel is a blogger and social media personality who has risen to considerable fame by telling every woman who will listen that she can become “any damn person she wants to be.”
Search the topic “Christian Self Help” on Amazon, and you’ll find her first big book at the top of the resulting list.
Her style is brash, energetic, and unapologetic. I get why people like her; if you’re looking for a positive yet forceful kick in the butt, she’s for you. But just beneath the surface of each cliche and bumper sticker motto is an unflinching call to self-worship.
Over and over again, she demands that women cast off the needs and expectations of others until nothing stands in the way of their “best self.”
Her mainstream popularity isn’t a surprise. It’s not hard to be inspired by a college dropout turned powerhouse business owner, with a million social media followers and a simple message of, “You can do it, too!”
What’s more remarkable is the degree to which Christ-following women (and perhaps some men) are buying in, despite the clear incongruence with Jesus’ self-sacrificing, other-oriented imperatives.
You might be thinking, “Is this such a big deal? Isn’t she just inspiring women to believe in themselves and strive for significance?” That certainly may be her aim, but sadly, I fear she may be the cause of far more disappointment than purpose.
Before dismissing me as yet another man trying to “keep women down,” please hear my heart. As a dad of a baby girl, I want nothing more than for her to be strong and confident. No daughter of mine will play it safe and blend in. You’d better believe she’s going to be a fierce, world-changer! But the path Rachel would have her take won’t liberate her - it will destroy her.
Rachel isn’t just offering her audience a few tips for successful living, but an entire worldview, the implications of which are very serious.
If I had to sum up her beliefs in one word, it would be relativism. Lurking behind virtually every line of her book, is a fierce commitment to the belief that no one can decide what’s right for you except you.
According to Rachel, you are the author and architect of your life and your schedule. You alone get to decide what path to take.
This is in perfect step with a modern culture whose commitment to personal autonomy is practically axiomatic. Its appeal is obvious. Who doesn’t want to be in complete control?
One problem: this simply doesn’t line up with the life Jesus lived and the message He taught. God humbled Himself by coming in human form and living a life of sacrifice and suffering.
His life in no way resembled the decadent, me-centered Gospel being espoused by modern prosperity preachers like Rachel Hollis. Instead, He poured Himself out to love the hurting, the marginalized, and the broken, and He invites you and me to do the same.
As followers of Jesus, we are not in charge—He is. And that’s a good thing. Because if you're like me, you make a decent servant, but a lousy king. Jesus is our reference, and He gets to decide how we ought to live. We have a stubborn sin nature, and surrender can be a tough pill to swallow - but like most pills, this is for our good.
It comes down to trust. Do we believe that God has our best interest in mind?
In Matthew 10:39, Jesus makes a remarkable statement. He says “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake, will find it.”
God is not asking us to reduce our expectations nor abandon our dreams. On the contrary, He’s warning you and me that if we become self-focused, we will lose ourselves - but if we give everything to Him, we will find real life.
Sadly, in trying to propel women forward, Rachel will inevitably end up weighing them down. But this is, nevertheless, the drum she is beating, and she isn't sorry about it.
Her hard work has landed her fame, money, and commitment to first-class travel - and if you’d only believe her, “all this could be yours,” as well.
When it’s all said and done, perhaps Rachel will have one thing to apologize for—leading millions of women down a path that will create the very disease she is promising to cure.