I have a confession to make.
Many times in my life I struggle with who I am, or rather think I am, because of my accomplishments.
I start many things that I never finish. I'm 27 years old and I haven't finished college. I didn't go through seminary for more than 2 years.
When I finally started in full ministry as a missionary I didn't do the ministry that I was hoping, because I didn't give my all.
I can make a frustratingly long list of things I didn't finish, or I ultimately do half-heartedly. Sometimes my mind ruminates, consciously and subconsciously, over this long list, and comes to the wrong conclusion that I'm somehow not good enough.
I'm lazy, I'm inconsistent, I'm unreliable. A simple look at this list can certainly lead to such conclusions about myself.
And then, in the midst of all this self-pity party, I can miss a very important truth about myself: I am not my accomplishments.
I can't base my identity on them. I can't base my self esteem on them. I can't build my life around them.
I think I'm not the only one who struggles with this. After all, in our western culture we tend to value more what we can or can't do than who we really are.
There is a powerful danger in this tendency, however. It is a destructive two edged sword where in the end, no matter where it strike us, still does great harm to us.
On one end, if our accomplishments are little, according to this world and its cultures, our self esteem suffers. We think of ourselves as worthless and perhaps lacking some nature that others with far bigger accomplishments have.
On the other end, if our accomplishments are many, according to this world and its cultures, our self esteem suffers as well. It suffers because we think we are all that, that of course we have that special nature that others simply lack.
How do we avoid these two horns?
I'm starting to go on the slow road of seeing things in a different way. Basing my life on my accomplishments will ultimately kill me.
I can only base it in who I am in Christ. If I build my house on the rock, then I will not perish.
It is simple, and yet its simplicity can elude us.
Yesterday, as I was getting ready to lead the choir for the youth group, I decided to pray: God, if everything goes badly, then help me to realize that that alone doesn't define me. Help me not to base my self esteem in my accomplishments. If everything goes well, then help me to give all the glory to You, for I can't base my self esteem on that as well.
People tell me it went well, but I didn't think it did. I was feeling a bit down. "Why do you think it went bad?" asked me surprised one member of the choir. "Did we do something wrong?"
"No I think you guys did great. I just saw this guy laughing at us, trying to hold his laughter during worship"
"You know what?" He told me "I don't care anymore if they do or not laugh. I decided that I'm doing this because of Jesus, to serve Him and serve them. That's all that really matters"
Oh how easy I forget.