You ever hear someone talk about identity and how identity is all about knowing whose you are? I feel like ‘identity’ is a bit of a buzzword right now in Christian communities and I would say rightfully so. We must know who we belong to. In my experience with this notion of knowing whose you are, the answer I’ve been given is always for one to know that they are a beloved son or daughter of God. It has a lot of affection and sentiment attached to it and rightfully so. I’ll be honest though, when people would give this answer it hasn’t always resounded with me. Not because I don’t believe it, on the contrary, it’s because I’ve always known it. It’s core to my being and is something like the air I breathe.
I was reading in a book* that I borrowed from my friend Mark and the authors approached that same understanding of knowing whose you are from a different angle. It wasn’t the familial, affectionate answer that I’ve grown accustomed to, but rather a straightforward and clear answer. Knowing whose you are is all about deciding who is the authority over your life and who is your primary audience.
I had to read over the paragraph a few times because it really struck me.
I can’t help but think about all the things that we do and the motivations that we put behind them. There is no shortage of things to spend one’s life doing and often we do such things with somebody else in mind. In a lot of ways it seems only natural. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing so long as one’s heart is pointed in the right direction.
Social media come to mind. In some ways, as a missionary, we have a heightened draw towards Facebook and the like. This basically happens because the vast majority of the people that we’re friends with on Facebook are not people that we see on a normal basis. I’m not talking about high school friends from ten or twenty years ago, I’m talking about our very closest friends too, the ones that we left back in America. Not only that though what people see online has a direct affect on our funding. Kind of a big deal, or so we think.
This experience is far from unique to us though. Most people, to one degree or another, imagine or actually have some sort of life audience that they hope to appease and entertain. Just the other day we had fifty or so people over to our house for Promise’s birthday party and it’s very easy to get into this mindset where you want to impress others and put on a good show. The problem with that becomes, whether it’s online or in real life, you end up getting burnt out as you realize this hunger to impress your audience is insatiable.
That’s the good thing about having God as your only audience and authority. You allow Him to do what He wants through your life, and He, as your audience, will always be pleased with you.
With our furlough quickly approaching, this has been a good reminder. We’ll be in the states for a little over four months and for missionaries, this is not down time and for the most part not a sabbatical. There are aspects that we look forward to like re-connecting with friends and family and enjoying certain conveniences, but there are plenty that we don’t look forward to like bouncing around from house to house, not having our own car and going from day to day with unclear plans and provision. All the while, you are trying to speak at churches to drum up support for your family and your ministry. You get in front of a church audience and hope that they find you appealing. It’s exhausting.
My hope and prayer is that I would live every day remembering, no matter what I’m doing, that I do it for an audience of One. I don’t have to worry if He saw a particular Facebook post or heard me speak when I was in the area. He sees it all and knows everything about me and what I do. He has the provision that I need, He puts righteous motivation within me.
*The book is Lead Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. So far so good.