“Get out of your own way.”

Carlos Santana recently teemed up with Clive Davis to cover some of rock and roll’s greatest guitar covers.  Initially Carlos was resistant.  He felt unworthy.  But after a few follow-up calls by Clive, Carlos came to the conclusion that he needed to defer to  great record producer and, in his words, “get out of my own way” to cut the album.

When Carlos introduced his new album at a release concert, he said: “If you want to create a miracle for yourself, learn to get out of your own way.”  Wham.  Now that got me thinking.  Yes, it’s presumptuous to assume that one can generate a miracle, especially for oneself, without reference or relationship to God.  But beyond that, I think Carlos was onto something about the need to get out of your own way.

I get in my way all the time.  I get in my way when my pride blinds me, or when my ego serves me, or when I turn in on myself.  I find it illuminating that “turning in on oneself” is how neo-orthodox German theologians defined sin for their day. I’d say that’s still an accurate definition of what happens when we rebell against God.  We turn in on ourself and our self gets in the way.

Jesus said: “take up your cross and follow me.”  This vivid invitation to die to self is hard to practice.  I get the theology of the cross behind it.  I just don’t always like to die.  But maybe one practical way toward resurrection living is to die to the pride, fear, ego, or insecurity that gets in your own way.

I admit that I’m partial to Santana’s guitar.  Heck, anyone who credits his musical inspiration with John Coltrane had me at hello.  But as for those profound words he spoke–I only hope that he recognizes his redeemer for that pathway to life.


About chris breuninger

I love life, my family, and Jesus. I enjoy live music, rigorous exercise, thoughtful movies, and strong coffee. I study scripture, wine, and people. I get frustrated with narrow minds, Christian stereotypes, and gardening. My vocation is pastor, but I’m hesitant to admit that, and I’m happy when people are surprised by that.
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8 Responses to “Get out of your own way.”

  1. Patrick says:

    Pastor Chris,

    Nice movie quote knowledge (you had me at hello). I’d love to see a whole blog post in movie quotes sometime.

    For a long time, I took an awareness of my own sin too far, not seeing that I also bear God’s image (his best qualities). This was one way that I got in my own way.

    In recent years I have begun to find freedom in being me, sometimes lacking and sometimes pretty darn great (“there’s no charge for awesomeness.” ~Kung Fu Panda).

    I want to continue to be the chief repenter in my home, but not at the expense of joy.


    • Yes! Don’t miss the joy in being you! I suppose two errors can sap our joy: not taking sin seriously or taking sin too seriously. The latter remind me of CS Lewis’ quote about the fall of Satan: “Saten fell by force of gravity.” It’s a play on words–gravity is both what causes objects to fall and it’s also the state of taking oneself too seriously. Here’s to the hilarity of joy!

      • Patrick says:

        That’s too funny, it reminds me of a quote by Golda Meyer, that stuck with me since college: “don’t be so humble, you’re not that great”

  2. Doug Richardson says:

    O.K. this is seriously my favorite post yet! It is 1:00 AM in Michigan and I just ended a day of training 20 people in how “they get in there own way”. Amazing! As for dying…yeah that’s not a whole lot of fun AND it is an opportunity to rely upon Jesus to save you instead of mef trying to save myself.

  3. Cathi says:

    Great post! While reading it the art of laughing at oneself kept coming to mind. It seems to me that being able to laugh at our goofs with a deep whole body laugh at times, balanced with our response to our errors helps us keep out of our own way.
    The freedom to honestly enjoy the blessings and joy we have in our lives, and the freedom to authentically accept those actions and parts of ourselves that separate us from God and others are related. The common factor is Jesus.
    A visual for me would be celebrating God’s wonder and beauty in nature with throwing my hands up in spontaneous joy and awe. And to be able to go to someone I’ve injured in word or deed and ask for their forgiveness sincerely. Each act recognizes that my power in the situation is quite small, God’s grace is much bigger in each.

  4. Kathy says:

    How do you define ‘turning in on yourself?’ Is it being introverted? Withdrawn? How is that sin?

    • Good question. I see turning in on one self as a metaphor for rebellion against God. I don’t see it as a personality trait, like introversion, being withdrawn or depressed. None of that is sin. But when we turn from God we turn toward self. That’s what I meant by turning in on oneself. Thanks for asking, Kathy.

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