The beach is empty at one in the morning. The hermit crabs are out in full force scuttling across the shallows collected on the high shores. I’ve never seen a hermit crab before. They’re odd, amazing little creatures, constantly adapting to their surroundings as they grow.
There’s this theory in the corporate world that you rise to your level of incompetence. That is, if you do well at your job, you get promoted. You do well there, you get promoted again. On and on, promoted and promoted (perhaps switching companies if the promotions can’t go high enough) until you are no longer competent enough at your job to be promoted. It’s a fascinating concept.
We’re all hermit crabs. We had to start small, had to choose a shell to work within and stick with it for a bit. Sometimes someone picks up the shell and paints it a pretty color: sometimes you get to do a job that looks more glamorous or exciting or interesting. But you change. You grow a bit, your shell becomes uncomfortable, and you must find a new one. Sometimes it is thrust upon you by a caring mentor, but more often than not it’s a painful, agonizing hunt. But then you find it. You stick with it. You grow a bit more. You become uncomfortable once again, and the time has come to move on.
On and on, bigger and bigger, change after change. Until the end. At that time, you hope your final shell is an exciting one. Perhaps you’ve become so accustomed to change that you find another shell of the same size, simply because you can’t fathom the thought that you’ve reached your potential.
But there is a major difference between me and a hermit crab. Hermit crabs are relieved of the gravity of choice. I am young, but I have worked my fair share in the last 10 years and outgrown a few shells of my own. But I am frequently faced with a major enemy: myself. I am by nature lazy and a procrastinator; I’ve put this writing off until the last hour of the day, even though I find it enjoyable. It’s still work. My dishes sit washed, but not put away despite being dry for a whole day. I often choose to do the bare minimum at work when there are no consequences. I don’t push myself, therefore I do not grow, therefore, there is no need for a new shell. Hermit crabs grow without restraint but for their surroundings, which are easily changed. I cannot grow until I conquer myself.
But here’s the thing: I’ve tried discipline to make myself work harder, better, more consistently. Obviously not for very long. No, I’m not strong enough on my own. What I need is something more, Someone bigger than me. I need God. In his book Training Camp: What the Best do Better than Everyone Else, Jon Gordon describes someone great saying, “the best tap into a greater power than themselves.” In this age of female empowerment and “believe in yourself,” if I did not have God, I’d be running for the hills. Because I’ve looked deep into myself, and yes I believe it. I believe that all on my own I could achieve my fullest potential – of being the laziest, most doubtful, apathetic human as ever there was. Sure, people have tried to conquer the world without God, and they have accomplished quite a lot, there’s no denying. But not me. For some reason, God chooses the weak of this world, and he breathes into them – into me! – new life. He gives the Comforter to guide and transform and motivate and do a whole host of amazing things that make me more like Jesus Christ. I’m still me and I make mistakes and often choose not to grow, but when I depend on Him, it is God that works in me both to will and to do what pleases him (Philippians 2:13).
Perhaps I am like the hermit crab after all. Oh sure, he’ll never have the choice whether to grow or not grow, but we both are fully surrendered to the will of God. And it is that surrendering – that tapping into the Greater Power – that gives me hope.