Earlier this year, I took an assessment for work. It was designed to show me the reluctances I have at doing part of my job. As we went through the class where they explain the different reluctances, I could see myself in some of them. Then they gave us our results. One of the ones I scored highest in was the Hyper Professional category. It said I have a tendency to want to always look the part – which is true because for years I wore my tie until it was time for bed.
As I began to think about that particular score, I wondered why was I a Hyper Professional. I asked myself hard questions and traced it back to my childhood. I wanted to fit in with the other kids, but my parents lacked the funds to afford the name brand clothes. In my mind, I thought that if I dressed a certain way, wore certain shoes, and did things a certain way, I would gain acceptance. This line of thinking became who I was all the way into my adult life which dictated where I lived, what I drove, and I presented myself.
This test revealed to me that I wasn’t content with who I was and that I was compensating for it in how I presented myself. It was a real eye opener. I realized that I needed to be content with who I am, and that I didn’t need those things to gain acceptance. Once I had that aha moment, I began to let go of desires to have certain things that I thought I needed. I began to see how pervasive this line of thinking had become in my life, and it brought me to the where I realize that I need to be content with who God made me to be. I don’t need the material things to enhance that.
I tell you this because so many of us struggle with feelings that tell us we are not enough which then compel us to compensate in other ways. In Matthew 5, Jesus gave us the Beatitudes which are declarations of blessings to us. In verse 5, He said, “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought” (MSG). When you and I come to that moment of contentment with who we are by God’s design, we’ll find the happiness and acceptance we’ve been looking for. It’s not found in shoes, cars, watches, or clothes; it’s found in understanding you were designed to be you on purpose and for a purpose.
What ways have you been compensating to find acceptance and happiness? How can you release them in order to find contentment with who you are?
All along my commute to and from work are billboards for neighborhoods. They have slogans like, “The life you deserve”, “Life’s better up here”, “The life you’ve always wanted” and “Life more than you’ve imagined.” All are for different neighborhoods, but their message is clear. They understand that we all want something more. Something better. They know that we are rarely happy with what we have because there is always something better on the horizon.
It’s not wrong to want something better than you have right now. It’s not wrong to work harder to provide a better life for your family than you had when you were growing up. We have to be careful though in thinking that our possessions bring us happiness or that more money will bring more contentment. It’s ok to have things as long as the things don’t have you. Our money, possessions or where we live are not meant to define us. Our identity should be found in God.
In the “Sermon on the Mount” found in Matthew 5, Jesus gave us the Beatitudes. Verse five says, “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.” Jesus knew we would get caught up in the “Keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. He knew that we would be tempted to forget that all we have is from Him.
He also knew that we would think that possessions would bring us happiness. I like the way that the Amplified version defines “blessed” in verse 5. It says, “Happy, blithesome, joyous, spiritually prosperous with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation regardless of their outward conditions.” When we learn to be content with who He made us to be and with the things He’s entrusted to us, we will receive all those things. We won’t have to rely on a neighborhood, car, job title or anything else to bring us happiness. We won’t have to keep up with the Joneses to define our worth.
In fact, Jesus said that regardless of our outward conditions we will find happiness and joy once we learn to be content. Paul said in Philippians 4:11 that he learned how to be content with whatever he had whether a little or a lot. God wants us to recognize that what we have is from Him so we need to learn to be content. We still need to work hard and be faithful with what He’s given us. When we show Him we can do that, it opens the door for Him to give us more. If you’re looking for happiness today, don’t look to your possessions, look to God and be content with who you are.
One of the great mysteries that guys wonder about is why do we get fine China when we never use it. It sits in a cabinet for years never being used. It looks good. It’s expensive. It’s on display for all to see. When are we ever going to use it? On special occasions is what we’re told. Those rarely come about, so those plates just sit there. They’re waiting to be used. They’re perfectly capable of being used, but they’re on display. They rarely reach their potential.
What we end up using are our daily plates. They cost a lot less, but get used often. They’re pulled out of a cabinet that you can’t see through, they’re used for every meal, washed and hidden again. These plates earn their keep and are always reaching their potential. Constantly being used for every day use. That’s the way I want to be used by God.
Some people are like fine China. They look good, they’re on display for all the world to see, but they are rarely used by God. I think it’s mainly because they think they’re fragile and stay in a place locked up and away from where they can reach their potential. Being used by God is messy business. You get dirty. You need to be washed often. A lot of us don’t like that so we stay away from situations where we can be used all the time.
I’m not like that. I don’t mind being hidden and out of sight as long as God can use me daily. I realize that it means I’ll need to be washed by the Word often. It also means that Im in that place of full potential where God sees fit to use me for His every day purposes. It may not be glamorous and it may not get much attention from outside of those that are being helped, but I’m being used for what I was made for.
I guess it boils down to what we’re content with. Are we content by being on display and never used for our purpose or are we content when we’re being used by God? If it’s the latter, are we placing ourselves where He can best use us? Are we willing to get dirty doing His work? Do we mind that it’s not glamorous or a special occasion? If not, then chances are we will be used by Him. It just won’t garner a lot of praise from others. You’re doing what you were created to do. Serve.
Each one of us has a purpose. We have a destiny to fulfill. There are things in this world that God needs accomplished and only you can do it. Your experiences and the things you’ve gone through were allowed and designed by God to prepare you for your purpose. Instead of looking at those times in your life as hindrances to your purpose, embrace them as preparation for your purpose. Be who God made you to be and put yourself on the table to be used by God for your every day potential.