Independence and Self-Reliance are Lies

Apr 26, 2023 | 4 comments

-by Peggy Hahn (She/Her), Executive Director of LEAD

The myths we have inherited about adult life are messed up.

Why do we believe we are supposed to be self-made, on our own, and autonomous? Who made the decision that this is what a healthy adult looks like? I want to call BS on this.

Independence is not Biblical, faithful, or good. We were MADE to live in community, to sacrificially support each other, to love lavishly. Withholding ourselves from the love of others, or from loving others is a lonely, sad way to live. Isolation kills us – we just had a pandemic to prove it.

The entire Biblical narrative is about people trying to figure out how to live together within a covenanted community – emphasis on community. Correctives come throughout our sacred texts about the flawed thinking of self-reliance. Reflect on Exodus 18 and Jethro’s council to Moses. Follow Naomi’s story in the book of Ruth. Run into the open arms of the father in the story of the Prodigal Son. Sit on the boat with Jesus and company. Relationships are the way, truth, and life.

I am convinced that we would not have the huge amount of mental health issues in our world right now if we could get over our perspectives on the self-made man, woman, or nonbinary human existence. We are made to figure life out together. I am not sure why we think people should all have their “own” home. Elderly people everywhere are dying due to this sad reality. Our children are feeling isolated and we have the power to create community for them with extended family, neighbors, and friends to do life together.

Do yourself a favor and get connected to other people. Make time for friends and family. Schedule time together if that is the only way forward. The starvation that feeds social media is an emphasis on the social connections and more than ease of media. How did we not realize the importance of connecting sooner?

Make room in your life to help people who are in trouble because they are too alone. If that is you, ask for help – the shame is not on you, but on a culture that you are part of that is wrong.

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35


  1. Diane Roth

    I agree with everything you said.

  2. Richard Birk


  3. Rod

    Amen Peggy! I received a text message from a colleague this morning who serves a congregation with 50-70 in attendance each week and whose church council is panicked because of money/budget shortfalls. They will be talking about working with another smaller congregation and sharing the one pastor. My suggestion was, do that for mission sake, not for money sake. Your article applies to congregations as well as individuals. Congregations need each other, and often need to live in community with each other for the sake of the mission handed down to us from Jesus. Sadly, the idea that a congregation is no longer “independent” is seen as weakness or “less than” the independent congregation. Yet, if congregations come together in community to work lovingly together, sharing in the sacrificial task of ministry – what a blessing to the church, the world, and God. Thanks again for your ministry.

  4. Rev. Karleen Jung

    I fully agree with this blog post and this has been my experience, both personnally and pastorally. We were made to be in relationships. We worship a God who is relational within God’s own being. This Western capitalist, pull-oneself-up-by-one’s-bootstrap mentality has go be dismantled. Thank you for this!


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