On the last day of school, my 8 year old son came home with a giant Snicker bar and accompanying certificate. He won the 3rd grade “Snickers” award for his uncanny ability to make people laugh. His sharp, witty, beyond-his-years comedic quality makes him both hilariously entertaining and difficult to deal with (often at the same time). I wonder if Seinfeld drove his parents crazy, too?
Humor has undoubtedly become a defining piece of my son’s personality. And he knows it.
When I was his age, I was busy forging my own traits.
I was the likable kid.
I obeyed the rules, respected adults, was (mostly) kind and encouraging to my friends. I thank (and blame) my mom for that amiable DNA trait. For the most part, everyone liked me, and I liked being liked. As I got older, I learned to like it even more. Seems harmless (even desirable) enough, right?
But without proper perspective, temperaments like this can eventually morph from mild dispositions into self-defining identities. More than a tendency toward which we lean, they actually become hard-wired into who we are. This is a problem.
In my case, life has forced me to confront and challenge people over the years. They didn’t always like it (go figure). And they haven’t always liked me. With likable as an self-defining identity, knowing someone doesn’t like you isn’t something that can be shrugged off easily. In fact, the slightest disruption in my “likability equilibrium” used to haunt my every thought and decision until balance could be restored. Being liked was an obsession.
Try leading your family, your church, or your business that way. Good luck.
These are the types of identity crises the Gospel has come to heal.
When your identity is found in what Christ did for you, these false identity idols can be put to death. We can step into life freely and boldly, able to handle the difficult challenges that will inevitably arise because who we are has already been settled.
When these truths finally swallow our hollow, self-made identities, we truly begin to live the way God intended.
What personality traits have you allowed to define you?
- Funny? What happens to your identity when no one laughs?
- Rich? What happens to your identity when that business deal goes bad?
- Intelligent? What happens to your identity when you give the wrong answer?
- Pretty? What happens to your identity when age wins its battle?
- Likable? What happens to your identity when you have to make a controversial decision?
Jesus? It is finished.
Is there something about your self-made identity that is holding you back?