What kind of person do you want to be? That is a question I ask myself a lot. The answer is interesting. The answer to this can be a little elusive. The world around us constantly temps us to think wrongly about ourselves.
For example, whenever I begin to hammer in my username and password into the login form of My LinkedIn, there staring back at me are the words, “Be great at what you do.” We all want to be good at what we do. But that slogan says a lot—a lot about how we see ourselves in relationship to the world. LinkedIn, like most marketers, are always telling us what we think we need to hear—what we want to hear.
Perhaps the most subtle tool/weapon of leadership, for good or evil, is comforting words. We are hardwired to need and love affirmation. The words of the LI login page whisper, “Hey you can be good at what you do.” “This is a place for people who are good at what they do… like YOU!” There is nothing wrong with that in of itself. It is when the concentrate on being good at what we do in isolation from who we are.
You are valuable to God
The problem is what the statement leaves out; it leaves out that we are valuable to God apart from what we do. One of the horrific statements Hitler made was his reference to elderly and infirm as “useless eaters.” People were assessed by the Nazi regime solely on what they could contribute. Well in the job market, the criteria are similar. But there are good reasons why we are called “human beings” and not “human doings.”
What are little slogans like these telling us? It is a narrative—a story line. It is feeding us a story line upon which to tell the story of our lives. One of the toughest things we as people deal with is losing the ability to do what we are good at. Possibly nothing will create a total life crisis quicker than extended loss of a job. We are all to easily defined by what we do.
We may not realize it, but much of the time, what we are good at and what we do actually props up our ego. We often come to think more highly of ourselves when we have the important position, the nice house, the title, or other prestige upon which to prop our self-worth.
An Alternative Story Line
But here is the truth: You are not what you do. It’s that simple. Is the tiny infant helpless in her crib less valuable than the Dr. who cares for her? Not at all. His role may be more critical in the moment, but he is not more valuable. In fact his ability to come to the aid of the helpless is an affirmation of his “humanity.” For only humans are able to have compassion in the truest sense. The caregiver’s actions do not create or impart his value; they affirm the value of both of them.
In contrary fashion, the Gospel narrative swings through the self-propelled narratives of worldliness like a wrecking ball offering us hope. The Gospel of Christ says: Be Great at Who You Are!
Read that again….
Be great at who you are!
But you are probably asking, How can someone intentionally just “Be?” That is the question. The answer is through self-acceptance.
The person who can accept themselves, faults and all, is a person capable to meeting the needs of those around him. Many of us struggle with this. Most of us have heard so many “no’s” and experienced so much rejection by the time we graduate high school, our trajectory is usually already set for us.
We of course can change this. But this takes time. It takes creating healthy habits—habits of healthy self-talk and healthy life rhythms. What we say to ourselves, is most important. We are constantly “chatting it up” between our own ears, and this self-talk is unfortunately usually more negative than positive. But it is here that change can be made. What we constantly affirm is what we confirm in us. We need to be intentionally affirming that we are a person of value. Changing our self-talk slowly, but eventually changes us.
The kind of person you want to be?
So what kind of person do you want to be? Do you want to make an impact for good in other people’s lives? Do you want to be a person whom people come to as a resource? Do you want to make your little part of the world or maybe even a larger part of the world a better place? It begins with accepting yourself.
There is no place better to begin this life change than the Gospel. The Gospel is about how God accepts us with all our brokenness, weakness, and imperfection. God desires you, wants to heal you and heal others through you. God wants to make you a Gospel person!
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