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Dave Brisbin

Savior Complex

Do we ever change another person? Save them?

Sometimes people thank me or our community for saving them, placing them on a lifesaving path.  It’s wonderful to be recognized as part of their journey, and I thank them, but if the conversation goes on long enough, I’ll remind that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. That if they changed directions, it was because they were ready to change, and I was the millionth guy over their bridge, winning the prize of being present when the miracle occurred. They were a change waiting to happen, and if I hadn’t shown up, someone else would have.

This is not an attempt at false humility, but the realization that being saved is not the passive waiting for a savior, but the willingness to participate in the saving change our lives require. Important distinction for both saviors and save-ees. Must be careful about developing savior complexes. We can help people, help change circumstances, but all we can provide is support and information—no change until acted upon. The most important things in life can’t be transferred; they must be experienced.

You’re thinking we can give love? In those five love languages, we can give loving words, service, gifts, time, and touch…more support and information until we experience them as coming from love over time. Even Jesus never said he changed or saved anyone. He was careful, “Your faith has made you whole.” We pray for God to save us, but if God changed us unilaterally, violated free will, love would no longer be real—not God’s, not ours. Love is not love if not freely chosen, and God’s perfect love makes us perfectly free or it’s not perfect. God cannot make us love him and be love at the same time.

We can help create an environment for change, but we are no one’s savior. And no one is our savior, passively understood. If we’re waiting for a savior, we’re not ready to be saved, for the teacher to appear.

Salvation is not God’s decision about us…that choice has always been made in our favor. Salvation is our decision about God. Whether to trust enough, risk the steps needed to experience the love that is already ours.


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