There could be a variety of reasons behind a person missing the mark, seeming to sabotage what they are doing or the direction they are going. Sometimes a person is trying to live up to expectations to which they have not really been called. Others advanced way beyond their level of faith and the future looks scary. I have seen cases where a person seemed to be more given to the sin of sloth which becomes a means to self-sabotage to true progress in life.
In the case of Jeremiah, the prophet, he was discouraged when his faith was tested by the way God was handling things, so he expressed his dismay to God.
Jeremiah 12:1 (ESV) — 1 Righteous are you, O Lord, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?
Of course, this action was really a kind of self-sabotage to his ministry because as a spokesman for God he needed to believe God and trust Him; therefore, God challenged him to consider his complaint.
Jeremiah 12:5 (ESV) — 5 “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?”
What a great challenge! If you are really called to something, the small challenges become a proving ground to advance, not a means to give up. Jeremiah had a much superior calling to bring a great message to an even larger number of people.
What little thing has you tripped up in life and why is that getting to you? Is it a lack of faith? Is it the sin of being slothful? God often uses the little areas of our lives to test us and prepare us for the next level. God proves His people through testing and when we prove faithful, He is glorified as He entrusts us with greater responsibility.
Luke 16:10–13 (ESV) — 10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Mark it down that God is constantly testing and challenging all of us. As He does, He is giving us opportunities to overcome whatever tendency we have that is sabotaging what He is doing in our lives. How great to come to the end of the way and know you did not give in and quit but kept fighting through each difficulty or challenge proving yourself faithful.
2 Timothy 4:7–8 (ESV) — 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
If we are going to move forward, we have to be conscientious of our tendency to give in to difficulty in a way of self-sabotaging what we are doing or trying to do. If we’ll go back to the “why” of making the decision in the first place as well as the “how” in that we rely upon God’s strength and power, then difficulties or apparent setbacks will not lead to giving up but in digging deeper in what we know in order to move forward. It’s a battle to overcome self-sabotage but not without hope. God is able to empower us to overcome.