Member Spotlight | Fighting Self-Reliance


Throughout our “Personal Liturgy” series, we’re interviewing members of our church family to hear how they are impacted and actively fighting against the “joy killers” in their lives. This week, we hear from Midtown Lexington’s Vision and Teaching Pastor Michael Bailey as he shares with us how the spiritual discipline of prayer actively guards him in the fight against self-reliance.

How does self-reliance show up in your life?

You could say that self-reliance is often my default mode of operation. For example, when something breaks in the house or on my old F-150, I find no greater pleasure than being able to avoid calling the repairman and doing it myself. It’s probably fine for me to be self-reliant in those ways, but this mentality often bleeds over into my spiritual life, too.

The most common symptom of my spiritual self-reliance is prayerlessness. I think, “Oh, I don’t need to pray for this. I just need to figure out the solution. In general, my first response to problems is to plan instead of pray. This only increases with particularly stressful seasons. Instead of turning to God with my anxieties, I just aim to keep my head down and work my way through it. I would never say that I don’t feel like I need God, but my actions tell a different story.

Where have you seen personal growth or victory in this area?

On my own, stress was always a prompt to problem-solve before anything else. While I still problem-solve, I’m fighting to see feelings of stress as prompts to ask God for help and guidance before I try to just fix things. Stress is becoming a reminder to me that God is God and I am not.

How has your understanding of the gospel specifically impacted how you deal with self-reliance?

I’ve learned to see that self-reliance, in many respects, has its roots directly in the Fall of man. Life ruled by self was mankind’s original sin and subsequently lays at the root of all sin. The gospel directs my attention to the reality that attempting to do life on my own is precisely the thing Jesus came to die for. It’s not merely a personality wiring or a work ethic malfunction, but a sin - and at the heart of all sin - that required the cross.

What are practical steps or habits you practice to fight self-reliance in your life?

I’m type-A. So, if I don’t have structure, it doesn’t happen. To fight self-dependency, I created a “prayer spreadsheet” where I periodically list the things I need or want to see God do. I track the date that I prayed for it and the date God provided an answer. It might sound tedious, but this process has been such a help:

For one, the task of writing down my prayers reminds me I ultimately need God’s Spirit to do the heavy lifting regardless of how confident I feel in my abilities to accomplish things. It forces me, even for just a few brief moments, to confess to God my need for Him to act.

Secondly, it gives me a practical medium to actually turn over to God the big things that stress me out. Before, I’d believe theoretically that I needed to “hand things over to God”, but never really had a framework for how to actually do that. Sitting down and typing out my prayers has become the tangible way to say to God, “Okay, this thing? I need you here. And this problem? I can’t solve it without Your guidance.”  

Lastly, it puts God’s faithfulness front and center. When He answers my prayers, I can’t avoid it. I can’t simply write it off to coincidence or what would have happened regardless. It’s a one-to-one relationship. I prayed and He acted. I can still remember the first time I checked off a prayer that God answered. I thought, “Wow…He really did it!” And the more of those prayers that get checked off, the more I’m encouraged to trust in God’s abilities over my own.

Have there been any scriptures that have been particularly helpful as you have dealt with self-reliance?

Yes, specifically Psalm 127:1-2 which says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

What encouragement would you offer to others in our church family as they seek to fight self-reliance in their lives?

I’d assume that for many of us who struggle with self-reliance, we don’t really consider it to be a sinful issue. We take pride in our work and our abilities to accomplish. The dark underbelly of our position though, is that it often leads us to feeling like the weight of our world is consistently on our own shoulders. So, my biggest encouragement to others would be to realize that it isn’t. He’s powerful enough to handle what you think you’ve got to do on your own.

How to Throw a Lifegroup Christmas Party


Jake Blair, one of our Church Planting Candidates, shares some ideas for how to host a memorable and intentional Christmas party this holiday season. 

It’s that time of year where many of our calendars are filled with Ugly Christmas Sweater parties, Secret Santa gift swaps, cookie exchanges and the like. In the midst of all the events, sometimes it’s hard to know how to maximize social enjoyment and gospel intentionality in a way that doesn’t feel awkward or forced.

This requires considering who is there. If your group has a lot of non-believers involved, make sure you help them understand what you’re doing and why. Give them a heads up so they don’t feel like any kind of bait and switch weirdness is happening.

With all that in mind, here are some ways to remind ourselves of the hope we have in Jesus by throwing LifeGroup parties that are both fun and full of gospel intentionality:

Consider Reading and Praying Together

  • This can work with an all adult party or a mixture of kids and adults!
  • Gather in a big circle and have someone or multiple people in your LifeGroup read the Christmas story out loud. 
  • When you’re done reading, spend some time praying and thanking God for sending His Son, Jesus to save us from our sins. 
  • Reading plans:
    • Simplest - Read Luke 1:1-21 straight through (or break it up into three parts - Luke 1:1-7, 8-14 and 15-21.)
    • Or make your own!

Sing Together

As Elf reminds us, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” As the Scripture reminds us, no one has more reason for Christmas singing than those of us who believe God sent His son to save us! And over and over (references from isaiah and Psalms and New Testament) God actually commands us to sing out loud. 

Why? Because biblical truths have a way of sinking further into our hearts when we put them to melody and music. So, get past any social awkwardness and strike up a fun and rich gospel-centered carol!

  • Have someone print out lyrics to familiar Christmas hymns and sing them together. Consider songs like, “Silent Night”, “Joy to the World”, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, “Joy Has Dawned” or “Come and Stand Amazed.” 
  • If you have musically gifted folks, encourage them to bring their instruments and play! 


In Isaiah, God promises us that when Jesus returns, we will all enjoy a massive feast with Jesus as the guest of honor. In light of that, every feast here on earth has the potential to point our hearts toward the feast He is preparing for us in that day.

  • Throw a big potluck. 
  • Don’t be thrifty with food; be extravagant! Encourage everyone to bring their very best thing they make. (a.k.a. Don’t ruin Jesus’ birthday party with instant potatoes.)
  • Invite people who could use a feast. Consider who in your life doesn’t normally get invited to the best parties and make them feel extra welcomed.
  • When you pray before the meal, emphasize God’s incredible goodness in providing this small feast and inviting us to the larger feast of heaven!

Start a New Tradition

Healthy families make memories together. One of the best ways to do this is by creating traditions that help make memories for years to come.

Discuss beforehand what would be fun for y’all. Make it special and memorable. (For example, if you always only do Secret Santa every year, consider mixing it up!) Options could be:

  • Watching a Christmas movie together that everyone quotes specific lines together.
  • Play a post-dinner football game or card game. 
  • Have a gingerbread house building contest!
  • (Consider incentives like: winners win a prize or losers have to clean the dishes!)

Throwing a LifeGroup party this holiday season? Use the hashtag #AVeryMidtownChristmas and we’ll feature you in our social media.