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What You Do vs. Who You Are

What You Do vs. Who You Are

I’m writing this on vacation. I’m taking a break. I’m away from my church. Away from the to-do list. Away from the hustle and bustle of my everyday life. Yet, I’m not taking a vacation from me. Who I am is still very much here. Sure, I’ve got some extra time for rest, football games, family dinners, and a puzzle or two; but I can’t really break away from what makes me…well…me. 

It’s a simple truth with profound application, especially as it pertains to our ministries: we can’t separate ourselves from who we are. We are our personality. We are our character. Plain as that. 

You can try to go through life separating what you do from who you are. Not only will this not work, but I don’t believe it’s how God really wants us to be. God created each of us with certain talents and abilities, on purpose, without mistakes. Yes, these personal attributes help us to accomplish certain tasks, but they truthfully have much more to do with who you are than what you do.  

In his book, On Writing Well, William Zinsser says, “ultimately the product that any writer has to sell is not the subject he or she is writing about, but who he or she is.” Apply this to our ministries, and suddenly the work we’re doing becomes very personal.

Several months ago I attended a youth worker training event about leading volunteers. Since that day this phrase has been constantly running through my mind:

“Volunteers don’t quit ministries, they quit leaders.”

Leading volunteers is definitely part of my job description. It’s part of what I do. Yet it’s success or demise has a whole lot more to do with who I am. The leader who spoke this phrase has shown me in several different ways over the years how true this statement is. (I very much appreciate your character and example, Doug!)

Psalm 101:6 says, “My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me.”

As a spiritual leader, whether in the church or otherwise, I believe our primary focus needs to be on who we are, instead of what we do. It’s taking care of the personal before we think about the professional. Every day, we should make sure we give time to strengthening our characters and our identities through the power of the Holy Spirit. This means being about worship, prayer, Scripture reading, solitude, exercise, rest, etc.  Our success and fulfillment are byproducts of these basic and foundational acts.  

My challenge (and yours) is to live fully into who I am every day. Ask yourself this hard yet revealing question: “Does what I do happen out of the overflow of who I am?” If the answer is no, then seek God on what needs to change. Attitude, behavior, circumstances, or maybe all of the above? 

The good news is God is in the transformation business.

You can trust Him to lead you in the change that needs to be made. Seek Him out and trust His guidance.   


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