I had a conversation with a dear sister-friend and colleague, a short time ago, which turned out to be a ministry session for my benefit. Rev. Terri Steed exhorted me to be true to myself and to the ways that God uses me in ministry. It may seem self-evident that I should do that, but self-evident is not always the same thing as easy.
There are certain kinds of jobs, professions, and vocations in which one is naturally exposed to scrutiny and criticism on a larger scale than just an immediate supervisor or close co-workers. In any such situation, the only certain thing is that you can’t please all of the people any of the time. At least, it seems that way. Different people will always have different opinions, approaches, and preferences which means that if your performance is being observed by more than a handful of people, you can bet on somebody taking exception with virtually everything you do.
I so envy people who can accept that and proceed with taking care of business without a sign of stress or struggle. I wish I were that way. But the truth is, I’m not. I bear the misfortune of being a pleaser at heart. I am happiest when it feels like everyone is happy with me.
That is a trait I frequently have to set aside or push through in my vocation. And it occurs to me that I am surely not alone in my (sometimes) struggle with that. The best we can do, at any given time, is the best we can do; and if it does not always sit well with everyone, we have to make our peace with that. I don’t believe that any of us were given the gift of life to spend it trying to please everyone except ourselves. In the first place, it’s not possible. So the effort to please everyone is certain to result in feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, and massive feelings of failure.
What a disservice to ourselves it is to allow others to write life-scripts for us to follow, rather than finding and living in our bliss!
But perhaps even more compelling than that is the simple fact that we were created on purpose, for purposes established by God. Living authentically, as the people we are, is essential to discerning and fulfilling those purposes. I can think of no greater waste of opportunity than to live somebody else’s life, rather than the one for which we were created. What a disservice to ourselves it is to allow others to write life-scripts for us to follow, rather than finding and living in our bliss!
Inauthentic living is, in essence, a failure of trust. It is a failure to trust that God knew what God was doing when God created us; that we are not who we are by accident. It is a failure to trust that those whose love for us is real will continue to love us in our transparency. It is a failure to trust that our love of ourselves - which can only be cultivated in a state of authenticity - is enough to sustain us through any losses we suffer because of being true to ourselves. And it is a failure to trust in the Lord with all of our hearts, and allow God to direct our paths.
At least, that’s what it turned out to be for me. So I am prayerfully recommitting myself to, as the kids say, “do me!” I am confronting my need to please (again) and asking God’s help to move out of my own way, so that by God’s grace I can be, do, accomplish, and enjoy all that God has purposed for me. I also pray for your success in doing the same when you figure out your answer to, “What’s holding you back?”