As I begin to write this, I have the lyrics to a song from The Who running around my brain. Which is topical, but not pertinent…!!
Humanity has difficulty with purposelessness and the lack of knowing who we are as an individual, set apart from other individuals. It’s one of the reasons it is easy to create mob mentality, both in a violent manner and in a sheep/shoal fashion – even when we are convinced that we are not affected by it. We both crave and spurn the desire to fit in, to be noticed, to be separate from the surrounding cultural norm. We fear and love and hate ourselves and each other as we manipulate, manage, fight, resist, accept, ignore and abuse ourselves and others in the morass as we try to filter others perceptions of who we might be and attempt to cobble together our purpose from imperfection. Or we float listless, hoping that some purpose or identity will happen upon us as we take the tide most travelled.
In amongst all the garbage, we can get a bunch of it right. It’s often obvious what we’re good at, and we know whether we like it or not. The most honest answers tend to come in under four seconds. If it comes out of your mouth in under four seconds but you know it’s a lie – then you have something to deal with… (Either your own garbage, or something else).
However, the point of this particular reflection, is not about career or what we can do. Not what we’re good at, or what we might be called to accomplish in the physical.
I think that here particularly in the Rich as Croesus West, we have been fooled into believing that if we have a job that is satisfying, and gives us money to do the other things we like, then that’s all we need, and it’s our career that is the driver behind our purpose. “Who am I” still revolves around what I can do. Dead set. That is a lie.
I have learned many things over the past few years not being able to do anything. Who I am comes first. What I can do, comes a distant second. If I know who I am, then anything I do, comes from that, and is fulfilling, because I know why I am doing it. I can make choices based on my understanding of why I am here and whether it falls into the framework Father has set up for me.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 that he did what was necessary in order to fulfil his mandate from the Father.
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NIV)
He did not expect everyone to accept the message of Jesus in the same manner, he made sure his delivery was appropriate for the audience. When God teaches you who He made you to be, it doesn’t matter if He then calls you to do something that you wouldn’t necessarily consider for a season, because He will show you the reason why, how it fits in with who you are and why you’re there. However. Who you are must come first. There’s no point enduring some hateful job if there really is no purpose in it.
Nobody go quitting their job now. That’s also not the point. I’m not taking the blame with your boss for your sudden epiphany that you hate what you do!
What I am encouraging you to do is this: Take stock. If you are looking at your job and saying ‘Ergh’, then consider it a tent making position while you get on with the business of the Kingdom. If you consider yourself to not yet fully understand your own purpose and identity then great! You know what you’re starting with. If you know who you are but you realise you’ve gotten a bit lost, then great! Stand still for a while and work out with Father where you need to be and how He wants you to get back there. If you need a job, remember that a job does not define who you are. God defines who you are.
Back to the real reason for writing. Purpose and Identity. I know a bunch of women who are defined by this verse:
And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Luke 1:17 (NIV)
Their lives work revolves around the work of reconciliation; people to themselves, to each other within the context of their families where possible and clearing out the junk so that space is made for God to be made known. It is often long haul work, and among the different ones it has found them in vastly different situations and circumstances even though a lot of the structural work they do is similar.
I spent the majority of my life to date trying to work out how to be recognised for the work that I was doing, and trying to work out what it was that I was even doing. There was no facility to assist me to settle into knowing who God had made me personally to be, and while I spent many years doing incredibly valuable work, that was all it was.
It wasn’t until I took a deliberate decision and action with Father to stop still for a while that He undid all the striving and showed me that His idea of purpose comes from stillness, not from working.
It has taken (so far) 7 years to undo 30 years of fighting for air, and I’m not complete yet. However, it can be done, and done far easier than you would imagine. Especially if you have someone elses’ nous to give you the keys to know what you’re dealing with…!
He has lead me on a journey to know who I am to Him, what my purpose in this life is, and to be able to make decisions about everything that happens in my day because I can now recognise the difference between the need to achieve and the ability to live from the place of reigning with Him.
Fight for stillness, because in stillness, He can take everything that you were and give you the fullness of everything that you were made to be. Ask Him what you need to know about yourself, and be prepared for the excellent, the good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. It’s ok to cry if you spill the milk, but you’ve still got to clean up the mess.
What we’re aiming for is a relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit that is so tightly woven that no one can separate you from them. When people look at you, they see Him, no matter what time of the day or night they see you. Because you are fully who He made you to be, and you know who you are and wh