Attention, all artists, writers, actors and athletes;
leaders, musicians, coaches, conductors;
teachers and pastors, students and priests;
parents and children, mentors and friends;
waiters and priests and bouncers and clerks;
wanderers, homebodies; any of the above–
This one’s for you.
Here’s your challenge. Ready?
Who is this for? This life that you live. and the things that you do, and the things about you that make you uniquely you…
What do you do it all for?
A guest speaker came to one of my classes the other day and discussed her ministry’s driving philosophies. She works with middle and high school students in communities, seeking to introduce them to Jesus Christ. And the challenge she always finds herself facing in nearly any moment of leadership:
“What am I trying to win them to?”
My personality? My confident leadership? My winsome words?
My programs, ideas, merchandise? The things I’m excited about and the things I think are best?
My talent, my sport, my craft, my art?
Are these the things I’m relying on?
Do I seek to please the people around me?
Or what’s more, do I seek to please myself?
All so empty, yet why do I try to find life here?
These questions, of course, lend themselves to another challenge:
From our friends at Adidas:
“Know your why.”
But do we know our “why?”
In my Biblical Worldview class, we watched the music video of Eminem’s “When I’m Gone” (the non-explicit version, I promise), and his internal struggles as an artist and a father struck me, as his daughter brings to light his inconsistencies:
It’s too late dad; you made your choice
Now go out there and show em that you love em more than us
That’s what they want
They want you, Marshall
They keep screamin’ your name
As he fights to be a father, a husband, a member of a family, he finds himself enslaved to the demands of fame, fortune, and fans. His identity, for so long, became rooted in his artistry and name that he struggles to break free from what the crowds want him to be. And his daughter sees it. She knows he’s chosen the stage. And he sees that it hurts. And through his words he wrestles with a new paradigm shift: to discover not merely something more to do, but to uncover why he does the things we see him do.
What is our goal? What is our aim? Why do we do what we do?
It’s rooted in something deeper. This is an issue not of career and hobby, but of identity.
Author and speaker Dr. Wayne Dyer once said,
“I am a human being, not a human doing. Don't equate your self-worth with how well you do things in life. You aren't what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don't...you aren't."
There it is. Identity.
I fear for those of us that hide behind the masks of what we do. Because, when we don’t… we aren’t.
Arguably this can, in turn, become an issue of worship: who are we going to serve?
Even the Apostle Paul has to check himself:
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” ~Gal 1:10
If he were trying to please and serve those around him, his identity would change. His worth and very reasons for life would shift.
It brings to mind the questions 90’s band dc Talk poses:
Is this one for the people?
Is this one for the Lord?
Or do I simply serenade
for things I must afford?
You can jumble them together
My conflict still remains
Holiness is calling
In the midst of courting fame
Are we people-pleasers?
Are we servants of God?
Or do we simply go through the motions out of necessity for material things?
Regardless, we’re called to holiness.
“…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” ~1 Pet 1:15-16
It’s not what we do; it’s who we are.
I’m a worship leader. I get up on that stage weekend after weekend, school chapel after chapel, and every time, it’s imperative I consider:
Why am I here?
Why do I do this?
Who am I going to serve?
In the book of Joshua, God renews the covenant with His people, and Joshua challenges them with an ultimatum:
“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” ~Josh 24:15
So I ask myself:
Am I glorifying my talents?
Am I proving I can do this?
Am I seeking to impress?
Or am I choosing to serve the Lord?
It’s not what you do; it’s who you are.
Know your why.
What are you trying to win them to?
But what’s more: who are you going to serve?
As for me, may I ever serve the Lord.
Take heart, friends.
Grace and peace.