The Danger of Individualism

I will never forget the all-nighter I had with God in 1983. I strongly sensed God was leading me to sell the bookstore our family owned – something I did not want to do. (Owning and managing a bookstore was a dream my Dad and I had shared and talked about since I was 9 yrs old.) Dad died in 1980 and his estate was bankrupt. We had worked for three years to pay bills and dig out of debt and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Then God and I had an all-nighter. I remember talking to a friend and mentor the next morning. He encouraged me to seek counsel from at least three God-fearing friends. He said, “It’s all too easy to act as an individual but God created us to live in community – so seek the advice of those you’re in community with.”

There is Biblical precedent:

In Acts 6 we find the record of the Twelve gathering all the disciples together to choose seven who would be responsible for the “daily distribution of food.” The decision was made by a group.

There is also the account in Acts 13 where we find the church at Antioch agreeing as a group to set apart Paul and Barnabas and send them off to spread the Gospel.

There are certainly situations when God speaks to us as individuals about sin, people, and circumstances that apply to us as individuals. We should test those things against the Word of God (see 1John 4) and respond accordingly.

When our decisions have implications for more than ourselves, we should be careful. Our individualism, selfishness, personal agendas, and desire for control often become the very things that cause us to be deceived.

The disaster of individualism often begins with “God told me . . . “

Yes, I did sell the store. Everyone I sought out agreed it was the wise thing to do.