She is the President of Focus Brands which includes such well-known companies as Cinnabon and Auntie Ann’s. I had missed her presentation, but not the buzz that surrounded it. Everyone was talking about Kat Cole. I was thrilled to learn that a colleague had taken copious notes and, as I read them, one line caught my attention.

“What initiative is underway that should be stopped?”

Successful brands was her topic but that day the question struck a deeper cord with me. What initiative was underway in me that should be stopped?

Paul began 2 Corinthians by highlighting God as the source of all comfort and outlining the trouble he and others had experienced in Asia. Then, in chapter 1, verse 9, he illustrated just how bad it had been...

“In fact, we expected to die. But …”

He doesn’t go on to say the “but” was that God miraculously saved them, although He did. He goes on to say this: “But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God...”

Paul and his colleagues had expected to die … but the lesson they’d learned through their experience was apparently much less about unbelievable circumstances that saved the day and more about the importance of stopping. Stopping self-reliance .. and switching to God-reliance.

It’s an encouraging reminder to know that even Paul had to learn to rely on the Father. He was weak in himself, just as we are. Even the gifts and experience and the wisdom and knowledge Paul possessed weren’t enough to face difficulties and overcome them on his own. Only God could enable him to bear his trials. He had to stop relying on his skill, stop relying on his own understanding, stop depending on his own insight, and stop relying on spiritual reserves to endure.

He was shepherding leaders in churches in several cities, shepherding his colleagues, and shepherding believers wherever he went. He was doing so while in prison, while traveling and tired, during shipwrecks, and after being beaten, stoned and left for dead.

It was in these places, during these circumstances, that he learned he couldn’t bear his trials alone.

We need to learn the same. How often in leadership roles are we confident in our own abilities, in the successes we’ve achieved, or in how wonderfully others have said we’ve performed? Each time as my self-confidence takes over, I meet the enemy and fail miserably. I’m guessing the same is true with you.

We need to stop.

Stop relying on ourselves, on our own abilities, on our own experiences. And start relying on the only One in whom we can trust. He will teach us. He will develop us. He will enable us to shepherd well. As Paul learned, He will help us in times of trial, He will come to us in times of need, and He will be present in the dark moments in our lives.

Where in your life are you depending too heavily on yourself? What do you need to stop today?

“In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who can raise us from the dead.”

2 Corinthians 1:9