According to Merriam-Webster, to be “self-made” is to be a person who has “achieved success or prominence by one’s own efforts.” I chuckle every time I hear the phrase. On one hand, no one ever has originated his or her own existence. If someone ever figures out how to do that, it will be quite a feat.
On the other hand, we are all beneficiaries of many contributions made by others into the world and into our lives. If one learns to read and write through the aid of teachers, then one is not “self-made.” If one learns job skills in a business owned by someone else, then one is not “self-made”. If one drives a car built by others on roads paid for by others, then one is not “self-made”.
To be sure, making wise choices is critically important. You don’t have to be a keen observer of humanity to see that wisdom and foolishness have predictable outcomes. The Bible affirms the need to be responsible in our decisions. Some choices are matters of life and death.
But though nations may enjoy hard-won independence, God created humans for interdependence. The very earliest story in the Bible says that it is not good for us to be alone, when God crafted Eve as partner for Adam. 1 Corinthians 12 reminds us that “to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” By God’s design, we need each other… whether we like it or not.
I have a suggestion: take a day and make a list of as many things as you can that are good and helpful things in your life given by others. I expect you’ll find it’s a long list. Then make that list a prayer, thanking the God who is the “giver of every good and perfect gift.”
Then I have another suggestion: go out of your way to be a gift, to be a blessing in Jesus’ name for someone else. Extra points if it’s someone who has nothing to give you in return. Do what you can do to get your name on someone else’s list of “good and helpful things”. You might wind up in their prayers of thankfulness, too.