In the 1980’s, Norway was in a recession when Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, going on national television, declared an end to the Jante laws in the country. The prime minister believed that the ten laws of the Jante were destroying the initiative and self-esteem of the country. She read the ten laws and then proceeded to tear them up. Some people believed that this was an act of national deliverance and helped to usher in a spiritual revival for the country.
The Janet Law comes from the 1933 book “The Escape from Jante,” written by Aksel Sandermose, which is a novel about an imaginary town called Jante. Sandermose, a Dane, who lived in Norway, observed these ten laws in the social cultural mindset of Scandinavians.
Ten Laws of Jante
- Do not think you are anything special.
- Do not think you are as important as we are.
- Do not think you are wiser than we are.
- Do not fool yourself into thinking you are better than we are.
- Do not think you know more than we do.
- Do not think you are more than we are.
- Do not think that you are good at anything.
- Do not laugh at us.
- Do not think that anyone cares about you.
- Do not think you can teach us anything.
The Laws of Jante describe a curse upon the Scandinavian people and I believe this same mindset is found in many Asian cultures. This stronghold is similar to the Japanese proverb that “The nail that sticks out is pounded down,” (Deru kui wa utareru) or the Hawaiian attitude of being laid back. The laws of Jante are not a biblical definition of humility, but a false humility that is based on pride and fear. The laws of Jante is the spirit of conformity.
Dr. Gary Sweeten, director of Lifeway Ministries International saw the Jante laws as a curse on the Scandinavian countries and said, “We encountered the spiritual, social, religious and familial results of Jante when we began to minister in Norway in 1986. It showed up in many of the comments of bright and capable men and women. They chronically put themselves down.” Dr. Sweeten was teaching a group of Norwegian leaders about how to break the Jante law and was facing some resistance. In providential timing, the day after Dr. Sweeten’s conference ended, Prime Minister Brundtland went on national television to break the Jante stronghold.
Two years ago, I heard about breaking the Jante stronghold after reading a written prayer from Aslan’s Place. The first time I used the prayer, the recipient said all ten points were strongholds in his life. I was surprised at how God touched him through this simple prayer. Two years later, I have seen many being touched by God through this prayer. Rob Gross wrote a booklet, “Breaking Free from the Jante Stronghold” which gives understanding to the Jante laws and some application to the Hawaiian culture.
Last week, I decided to write my own prayer to break the Spirit of Conformity or the Jante Stronghold which is adapted from Rob Gross and Dr. Sweeten. Below is the prayer that we introduced to the church on February 22, 2009. My Jesus bring freedom as you pray this prayer.
Prayer to Break the Spirit of Conformity (Jante Stronghold)
- I break the mindset that I am not special. The truth is I am awesome because I am created in His image. (I Pet. 2:9)
- I break the mindset that I am not important. The truth is I am important to God. (Eph. 2:14-18; 1 Cor. 12;12)
- I break the mindset that others are wiser than me. The truth is I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me and He gives me supernatural wisdom. (James 1:5)
- I break the mindset that others are better than me. The truth is God has given me purpose and destiny to be a success.(Jeremiah 29:11)
- I break the mindset that others know more than I do. The truth is I know God who knows all. (1 Cor. 3:16; Rom. 8:11)
- I break the mindset that others are more important than I am. The truth is I am precious and honored in His sight. (Isaiah 43:4; John 3:16)
- I break the mindset that I am not good at anything. The truth is God has given me unique talents and gifts to benefit others. (I Cor. 12:7-11)
- I break the mindset that no one can laugh at me. The truth is God is joyful over me. (Luke 15:11-32)
- I break the mindset that no cares about me. The truth is God loves me and His children love me. (I Peter 5:7; Rom. 12: 10)
- I break the mindset that no one can teach me anything. The truth is I am a disciple who is constantly learning from God and others. (Matt. 28:19-20)
I break the Spirit of Conformity and the Jante Laws in my life and in my generational line. I forgive family members who passed down to me this stronghold or who may have wounded me. Forgive me for looking down on others. I forgive myself for believing lies about myself. Remove the cap that is over my life. Fill me with your Spirit to walk each day in your fullness. Amen