Apr 6, 2006

Who I Am

This is going to be one of those highly self-involved posts that most blog readers can't stand because it projects the belief that the blogger is arrogant enough to think that everyone cares about their personal introspection. However, I need to do this - to get my head straight, to help me break through a doldrums, for a hundred reasons. So, I apologize in advance for offending anyone by being such an egomaniac.

I have been in a bit of a lull personally lately. I haven't posted on here since the Oscars, even though I've had a ton of things I have wanted to say. I can't get myself to work on computer projects I have laying around at home. I even have been very hesitant to keep pursuing Christ actively, choosing instead to just coast on my good reputation. As a result of all of that, I have become a bit of a churlish twit lately. I get irritated often, mope around when things don't go my way when I want them to. I have not been lifting people up and encouraging them. In fact, when they are teetering on one leg on the edge of misery, I find myself softly kicking them in their one good ankle - hoping they will fall off and join me. I'm not being a jerk - just not being a non-jerk. The worst part to me is that I am not blind to all of this. Rather, I am sitting there quite aware - not pleased, mind you - but very cognizant of my pitiful state. I want to change, but I'm too lazy to do anything about it. I have painted quiet a purty picture for everyone, haven't I?

Well, last night I was sitting there and decided to read John Maxwell's The 360 Degree Leader. It talks about being an influence and leader no matter where you fall on the corporate ladder. I wasn't reading it because I am one of the millions who swear by Maxwell's every thought. Rather, I know that this is one area that I need some help - how to be content and succesful while being a cog in the machine instead of operating the machine. I like to be the big shot, pulling the strings. It isn't a power trip - rather it is only there that I feel I can truly reach my full potential. My ideas and plans get shot down so often by everyone that I can't really do what I fell needs done. I don't honestly believe that I know everything, but I'm a relatively smart and insightful guy. So I think some of my stuff should be considered. So I hate being subordinate to somebody who doesn't have the same vision, outlook, opinion as me. They aren't bad people - we just aren't on the same page, or in the same book.

Anyway, I was reading the book and it comes with a free online assessment of youself and your capabilities. So I took the test, and it verified what I have been thinking. Which is why I need to write all of this. I need to take inventory and list Who I Am. That may help me to prioritize my thoughts and actions to actually fulfill my calling. I truly believe that God builds every one of us with specific and unique talents, spiritual gifts, and passions. When these three things come together, they form a special place where we are going to excel and truly be the most effective for God. We may still be doing good and being effective in other places, but that special zone is what we were built to do. And when we land there, we need to just bust our tails for Christ. Which maybe is why we take so long to get there - to get us ready so we don't flame out and screw up when we get the chance. So, here's my inventory and some thoughts about each.

I AM A LEADER - I know this. I have the qualities to lead. People follow me, and have a strong loyalty to me. I don't ask for this or demand it. In fact, in the opportunities I have had to lead, I can only remember a few incidents where I needed to even remind someone that I was in charge. Being a leader is not glamorous. I have done it - I was a College Minister in charge of an entire ministry and budget. The decisions all came from me. And the criticism lands on you, as does the sleepless nights and the broken heart. Being a leader is hard and tiring and painful. It also is incredible and amazing. And it comes with a huge price and a huge responsibility and a huge warning (Jesus' millstone comment). So if I truly am a leader, I need to lead. If I can't lead by position, I need to lead by example. Instead of griping and waiting for a chance to come, I need to make the most of my current place and lead those who are willing to follow.

I AM AN INFLUENCER - John Maxwell will say those two things are synonymous. But they also are very different. I have learned this about myself. I can change the mood of a workplace in a very short period of time. When I worked at Rhodes, I saw that happen. As my attitude eroded over a period of months, the entire workplace went with it. Everyone got angry and bitter. There were arguments and rebellions. It was awful. I was the only person that got along with everyone - so my poison went everywhere. I've seen the same thing happen several other times. I need to be more aware of that, and be more conscious of what I say and do. People are always watching and listening.

I AM A FATHER - I will be honest when I say I am not sure what exactly that means. I didn't have the best dad (who did?). And so I'm learning as I go. One thing I had to come to grips with last week is that I am not very good at this role yet. I have had to totally rennovate how I approach being a father. I was being too reactive and too easily frustrated. As a father, I am going to be held responsible for how I led my kids. And I have to be a godly example ALL THE TIME. My son recognizes my bad attitudes and actions all the time. He calls me on it too. He needs me to be what I never had - a living model of being a godly man. And my daughter needs me to show her what kind of man she should want one day when she turned 42 and gets married. I need to pray for them - more than just at bedtime.

I AM A HUSBAND - The last two may seem obvious, but they need to be a part of any list I construct. My first allegiance to any human must be to my wife. I need to help her to be the woman God has called her to be and to be fulfilled as well. This can be hard. My wife is a science-minded person. And she loves the medical field. How do I help her to become all that God meant her to be while at the same time being sensitive to our family? Trust me, this has been the source of many, uh, discussions over the years. I want her to do well in school (which she does) and to find fulfillment and be excited about her life. And I want her to grow in God. That last one is also hard. I love serving and teaching at church, but if my family isn't growing - then I am hurting the most important people I have in my world. That is going to lead to hard choices, but they have to come first.

I AM A TEACHER - I know that I am built to teach. That is what I do, what I have always wanted to do, and what I will always want to do. I can't just sit still and listen. I want to share what God shows me. I want to give that to everyone. I see people who are blindly putzing around and I want to help them get moving. This is the one of these six things that I have not neglected lately. I still am teaching. I admit my preparation is not the best every week, but I still give my all on Sunday. I can't give this up - but it can't come at the expense of being a dad and husband. Again, a hard choice must be made.

I AM A WRITER - I love to write. Things come to me and flow through me so easily. I read a fascinating post by Malcolm Gladwell a couple of weeks ago that really stuck with me. He was asked by someone if he did a lot of prep work on his writing - basically asking about his writing process. Gladwell said that he doesn't think about that very much. He just writes because he loves it. He doesn't care if it is a first draft, a review, an abstract, a post. He loves the writing. He went on to say how he was amazed when he heard of athletes complain about practice because it shouldn't matter WHY they are playing basketball - it should just be that they love playing. He went on to say that is why Tiger Woods will always be better than Phil Mickelson at golf. Phil takes two months off. Tiger never stops playing because he loves it that much. He loves practice, driving range, putting green, playing. He just loves golf. I feel that about writing. I just love it. But I don't do it because I'm afraid I'll get "too into it." I guess that's my reason - seems pretty stupid. But I for some reason don't get that car into gear. But God built me to do this, and I need to stop making excuses and just write whenever I can. Don't worry if anyone reads it. Just do it.

All of this is obviously covered by the fact that I AM A CHRISTIAN. I do not hide that. I may write on things that aren't "spiritual." But how will I influence my culture if I refuse to engage it? That's why I review movies and listen to music. I see how I can link those things of the world to show Christ. At times in my past, I could justify watching movies with pretty bad stuff in it. But no more. I do not allow my desire to reach the culture to compromise my commitment to obey God's Word. So I am careful about what I watch and hear. But I will not hide my head in the sand and let Satan run away with the world because he has no opposition. In China a few years back, one man stopped a convoy of tanks. I need to be that man. Yes, I may get run over. But God will use that to.

So, that is Who I Am. I make no apologies. I cannot deny those things. I need to start being serious. I'm going to turn 32 in a few weeks. I need to stop playing games and get serious about doing what God told me to do. I guess that was what I needed to get to.


Benji said...

Wow - thanks David! You have me thinking about myself, which I have already been doing lately anyway. I get so bogged down sometimes at work (with the focus on PAPERWORK, PAPERWORK, PAPERWORK!!) that I miss the idea of being a therapist. Then I take that bad attitude home and bring down my wife and daughter. I keep having to tell myself "what is your order of priorities?" I have to remember that I am a husband, father, and Christian much more than I am a therapist or news junkie.

Thank you for the article to keep me accountable!

Diane said...

Well put. Thanks for sharing! (I hope you write and publish a book some day!)

My Mom tells me when I complain, "that this too shall pass." And it does. And God uses even my "dark" times to bring me back to and closer to Him. And I am stronger because He is faithful when I am not.

As a teacher and leader I have had to learn to plug my ears when my friends and church and American culture tell me it not enough to be a stay-at-home-school-mom. God tells me it is enough and my "calling" for now. And I am satisfied unless I listen to the lies. (Thanks for the reminder!)