Limiting Beliefs [Breaking Through]

There has never been a time when God has not been at work. The question is not whether God is at work, the question is what is He at work doing?

And the greater question is whether you and I have the courage to join Him in his work.

Self-limiting beliefs are messages we have internalized and accepted as a narrative of what “we can” and “cannot do.” They are artificial, constructed from life and its varied situations… “some good”… “some bad.”

Self-limiting beliefs are different from boundaries which describe what “we will” and “won’t do.” These are the stories within the story and are the source of why “we will” and why “we won’t” move forward.

Self-limiting beliefs feed off of false reasons and miss-read stories we continue to believe and re-tell about ourselves — old memories that continue to re-enforce beliefs that keep us from breaking through.

What they sound like:

“I can’t be the new pastor of this church. I grew up here. I grew up here. There is no way I can be the leader of this place. You need someone else. I don’t have what it takes. Besides, if I was to do this, how could somebody my age be a pastor to someone like yourself… you are the one who discipled me.”

But what if God was at work doing something new?

Breaking through the barriers often means confronting self-limiting beliefs, and is the by-product of three components, working together:

  • Sovereign Perspective
  • Courageous Alignment
  • Obedient Choices

Perspective—Discovery of where God has been at work

Stepping-back… gaining a big-picture perspective… seeing life from the balcony view often provides new insights. We live situationally, but God calls us to live sovereignly.

Capturing your story in a Post-it Note timeline helps a Christ-follower gain new perspective on how God has been at work in their past, and what He might be at work doing in the present.

Without a map (timeline) its hard to find your way and stay the course. We can end up in places where we never wanted to go. Decisions and new steps are often diverted by self-limiting beliefs when we lose sight of the big-picture.

Alignment—Surrendering to God and His at Work

The hard part (for most of us) is recognizing and knowing the difference between our voice and the voice of the Shepherd. Voice recognition comes through practice. As we surrender, we come to hear/recognize the Shepherd voice. We become more attuned to him, as we turn down the strength of our own voices and fears. Few things are more important than hearing his voice. (John 10:27,28).

Point: The prize of surrender is revelation.

“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.” — John 5:19.20

Choices—Walking according to how God in His Work

Choices reflect deciding through our behavior to join what God and His work. There is no guarantee life  will go our way, but what is true that the journey of “trust” produces an authority in life sourced in Him. Jesus made choices. You and I are called to make choices.

“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.”  — Luke 9:51

The self-limiting beliefs expressed above were those of a 28 year, young Pastor-leader named Walling.

I had all the reasons why it was impossible that I should not be Lead Pastor of my home church. But when I examined my past, and I discovered his shaping work, it came down to surrender, aligning with His plans and making choices that would dictate my steps beyond my doubts and fears.

Breakthrough often unfolds, it is not a “one-decision” event. It is often the  result of choices to lean into, and align with what God reveals. Breaking through is about choosing to see like he sees, and  making the choices based upon God’s shaping work, not our own plans or ambition.

Easy? No. Possible? Yes.

And by the way… making that choice brought breakthrough… a produced a new chapter the changed my life and opened up the beginning of a life of Kingdom ministry.

Coaching questions:

How has God worked in your past in this area, and in the making of decisions?

How might God be at work in this situation? What do you feel he could be wanting?

If you join God in His work, what might it look like?

Check out the Leader Breakthru PODCAST on breaking through and power of coaching and mentoring.


Terry coaches and mentors breakthrough for entrepreneurial, risk-taking leaders. He has authored several books on leadership and pioneered a variety of leadership development resources and processes with his organization, Leader Breakthru. Terry also serves as adjunct faculty at Fuller Theological Seminary.

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