That little descriptor can wreak a lot of damage.
I enjoy looking up synonyms of words when I write. The subtle difference between two words can turn reading into reflection. In the case of sort-of, the synonyms paint a vivid picture of the mindset behind the descriptor. Slightly. Somewhat. Limited extent. The phrase and its synonyms appear accurate and innocent; yet sort-of has an ugly side for a person struggling with image management or insecurity.
Sort-of is a deceiver, pretending to be something it is not and promising things it cannot deliver. Consider the following examples:
Sort-of pretends to be an image protector. However, it is a tool of false humility. The flip side of pride. In my own experience, it represents fear of not being perfect or the best in an area of life. I would rather people not expect me to be good at something. Therefore, if I am “sort-of” good at something, making mistakes is acceptable. One’s self-worth should not be wrapped up in being the best at something, but rather in doing your best at something. In my own life, sort-of is always followed up with an unspoken afterthought.
Do you play the piano? “Sort-of.” I’m not an accompanist.
Are you a writer? “Sort-of.” I’m indie published.
Are you a teacher? “Sort-of.” I’m not accredited in my state.
Sort-of can impersonate contentment. A content person appreciates the gifts God gives him. One who is not content may look for something more or different. Their search is not for improvement, but for self-satisfaction. A person who is not content may feel cheated by circumstances. If I am “sort-of” happy with what God has laid out in my life, then am I essentially unhappy with it? Sort-of can rob a person of joy when it directs the focus toward self instead of toward God. When we think of ourselves, we are less likely to express appreciation to God and to give Him glory.
Sort-of promises to deflect attention. We may think statements like “sort-of” represent our humility. However, humility means we are not thinking of ourselves at all. When people verbalize their own humility or lesser value, their words tend to solicit a compliment in response, thus turning the attention on them.
Sort-of appears to be a motivator. Rather than motivating a person to improve, to keep learning, and to be grateful, sort-of subtly whispers, “No use trying.” A sort-of mindset can lead to discouragement, defeat, and defensiveness. This mindset can harden a heart.
Since sort-of can subtly creep up on us, how can we be our best for God and not ourselves? How can we turn our thoughts to others when we are tempted to think of ourselves? How can a believer be more aware of his selfish thinking? The answers are in God’s Word, which can counteract sort-of by reminding us to reflect on God’s attributes.
- I Corinthians 10:31 states, So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. This verse reminds believers that our goal is to glorify God. Nowhere does this verse indicate that we are to glorify God only if we are the best at what we do. Only if we are perfect. It implies we do our best and be our best for Him–not for ourselves.
- The Bible encourages believers to not be self- focused, but to think about others. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:4.
- Rather than mulling over our own insecurity, we are to reflect on God’s attributes. Psalm 145:5 states, I will speak of your splendor and glorious majesty, and your wondrous works. Consider Romans 8:6. Now the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. What a beautiful promise God gives believers in Isaiah 26:3–You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.
I’m “sort-of” giving sort-of a bad rap. Yes, there are times when sort-of is the correct descriptor. The problem emerges when sort-of is used to mask self-focus, insecurity, or defeat. This type of sort-of needs to be confessed and released.
Perhaps sort-of isn’t what makes your feel ineffective or insecure, but rest assured that any time we seek to glorify God, Satan has a plan of attack against that glory. That is why Ephesians 6:10-18 describes the armor we need to fight against these attacks.
Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. 13 For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, 15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the word of God. 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request
May you find victory from your insecurity and keep your eyes focused on God.
“Kim, are you ready for today?”
“Sort-of. I just need to tighten this belt of truth.” She tugs and ties. “Now, I’m ready.”