Dangerous Self-Reliance

Last week I wrote about the importance of partners; partners in our daily patrols as well as in our recovery journeys. Today I would like to look at the dangers of going it alone from a slightly different angle.

One of the traits most, if not all, First Responders have in common is that we all think we are indestructible, bulletproof, able to ‘handle it myself’. While this attitude is essential to successfully completing our duties (I think it comes in our genetic makeup), it can have serious repercussions if we are not careful and if we begin to take things for granted. I am sure we have all seen (or been) the one who recklessly or needlessly exposes themselves to danger on a relatively routine basis. Granted, there are those circumstances where we would all place our lives at risk, above and beyond the daily risks we take, in order to save or help the total strangers we meet every day. I am not talking about those instances but, rather, those who, for whatever reason, seem to unnecessarily seek out the adrenalin rush of a dangerous situation; many times these would be with very unfortunate consequences.

This same sense of indestructability has another face, one that is calm, reasoned, and responsible, but no less dangerous. This is when we are doing everything in our power to safely navigate our daily routines as well as our recovery journeys. However, no matter how well we may think we are doing, we are all vulnerable to attack at a moment’s notice and without warning. It is during these times of seemingly good progress that we need to be particularly careful that we do not become too comfortable with our recovery journey and slip into complacency. The Bible warns us about this when Paul wrote to the Corinthian church: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall,” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV).

On a related tangent, we must guard against the desire to be a solitary sojourner in recovery by rationalizing to ourselves that our struggle is ‘unique’ and that ‘no one else would really understand or be able to help’. This is a VERY dangerous place to be and can easily lead to overconfidence in our own abilities; quickly followed by frustration, confusion, depression, and relapse when things don’t go was we planned. No matter what we are struggling with, there is always someone around who can relate and who can help us through our struggles, just a Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” The key here, however, is that we must be willing to take the proffered way out when it is presented to us, rather than relying on our own efforts or looking for an easier way out.

Complacency and boredom can easily lead to avoidable and potentially deadly mistakes, both on the job and in our individual recoveries. We are warned against these foolish habits in Proverbs 1:32-33, where we are also reassured of there being a way to safely navigate these difficulties: “For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.”

Remember, we must be always on the alert and not become overconfident in our own abilities to overcome our addictions!!

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect
2 Corinthians 1:3-4


About Scott P.

Scott is a retired Military LEO and a Volunteer Chaplain with Serve & Protect (www.serveprotect.org) where he seeks to provide transition services for First Responders and Military personnel by mentoring and connecting them with local 12 Step or similar Faith-Based recovery programs, local Chaplains, and Trauma Therapists to continue their recovery journey following residential care treatment. Scott contributes these devotions to the Serve & Protect ministry Facebook page: Guns'n'Hoses (https://www.facebook.com/GunsHosesMinistry). Scott has been involved in Faith-Based recovery programs since 2006 and has a Bachelor of Science in Religion through Liberty University and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies through Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary. He currently resides in Fredericksburg, VA, and can be contacted at spipenhagen@liberty.edu.
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