Thursday, 7 July 2011
Who Are You?
You're at a party or some other gathering (even having coffee after the morning church service!) and you get introduced to someone new. After the initial pleasantries and exchanging names, the conversation almost inevitably gets down to the nitty-gritty - "...so, Tom (Jane/Barbara/etc.) what do you do?"
The response will often define a perception of that person's character - be it refuse collector or brain surgeon - and it's all too easy to make assumptions about their status.
We all do it, be honest!
But why should what someone does be any reflection, positive or negative, on who they are?
God created each of us with particular giftings and skills for the purpose of equipping us to fulfil His plans for us and creation as a whole. For example, to some He endowed manual dexterity; to others He gifted organisational skills.
We each have a God-designed 'shape' that fits us into the massive jigsaw-puzzle of life - one place, the perfect place, designed to fit perfectly. Each ability was/is perfectly and equally crafted and tailored to that particular person - it is only mankind who ranks their importance as greater or lesser.
Last night, I was discussing this with friends at church, as we were exploring what we believed were our God-given goals in life. And what a varied bunch we were/are! To put it in a nutshell, our goal, clearly, seems to be to live the lives God planned for us, not kicking against the rails and wanting what we cannot have and becoming depressed when our plans are thwarted.
But let's get this straight - we were not created to give rein to our own selfish passions - we were created to give pleasure and delight to the Creator. When you put your circumstances in that perspective it's a whole different ball-game!
So, you find yourself in a lowly position, perhaps doing menial tasks, and you feel somehow less worthy than the brain surgeons or professors or the big 'movers & shakers'. But wait a minute - who told you that you were not as 'worthy' or important as them? The 'World' - that's who!
The World has this 'pecking order' of propriety. It defines you by what you 'do' and ranks you on it's scale of worth and importance: fine if you're at the top end of the scale, but the 'also-rans' at the bottom are kept very firmly in their place. The World promotes success, wealth, beauty and power and to be in the 'game' you have to climb 'their' ladder.
But, what if we weren't designed for that? What if we were created to fulfil God's plans for His creation? If he designed you to know the intricacies of the delicate workings of the brain and endowed you with the skills to perform surgery in that area then you will be fulfilling His plan. It's unlikely your skills will be of much use in a steel factory. Equally, though my plumber knows the intricacies (and eccentricities!) of my heating system, I might not necessarily allow him to give me sound financial advice!
Determining what you feel you are good at, where you feel able to achieve the end result without too much stress or beating yourself up about your failures is, I believe, a pretty good indicator that you are in the right place. Whether you are happy about that will depend on whether you are listening to God or the World!
So, are ALL occupations good? Certainly all the legal ones may be - less so the habitual burglar!
My husband has a job related to the Brewing industry. He loves it (and it's NOT all about drinking beer, before you ask!) but a few years ago he was thinking about how worthwhile it was. Talking with our (then) pastor he posed the idea of moving his administrative skills towards one of the many charitable organisations, secular or Christian. Wisely, our pastor friend asked him to consider one question – of the people he currently worked with, how many were Christians? Hubby answered that he believed that although some of his colleagues might be sympathetic to the faith, none had ever confessed as much. So then, he was counselled, by leaving he would be taking away an opportunity to demonstrate God’s values in that place!
Likewise, we had a friend who at one time was involved in designing aerial weaponry. I often wondered how he could equate his strong Christian beliefs with such seemingly un-Godly activity. His response was that if he wasn’t involved then how much more terrifying might be the prospect; by his presence he might be able to effect a restricting attitude to the more aggressive ideas for weapons technology. It wouldn’t stop people making bombs, but it might curb the more vicious tendencies and who knows, it might lead some of his colleagues to Christ. Perhaps some of them might. in turn, use their technical skills in a more benign way. (The words ‘swords’ and ‘ploughshares’ come to mind!)
So then, it seems to me to be more important that we are concerned with ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’; being what God created us to be, not trying to do what we weren’t designed to do and the acceptance of that fact can only bring a peace and contentment that the World promises in it’s ‘adverts’ but can’t deliver when push comes to shove!
…..but by all means, we should live the life God has planned and equipped us for, joyfully, contentedly – and if possible with a song in our hearts!
Perhaps Sinatra had it right after all! ;-p