This is not a silly question. It is probably one of the most important questions you can answer. And it impacts most areas of your life. So, I am here to make you think about, “Who are you?”
Since this is a huge subject I will probably come at it several times and from different angles, prompting you to think about something you have already decided is not important.
Why do I do this to myself? Here I am trying to make you ponder something that you have ignored most of your life, even though it has impacted most decisions you’ve ever made. I must be a masochist or something!
Oh well, here I go anyway.
Pick a Label
What words best describe who you are? Before I prompt you any further, take a moment to list three words that describe who you are…….
Now, I’m waiting…..
Don’t keep reading until you’ve picked three labels that describe who you are. Make a mental note, or scribble them down somewhere, because we will probably refer back to them later.
Now, think of the last person you spoke with. It might have been a family member or work associate, or someone who just spoke with you on the phone. Identify who you are going to label. Write their name down, and then list three labels which describe who they are.
A Thousand Brands
Just as there are thousands of brands around the world, for clothing, food, entertainment, etc, there are thousands of labels that could be put on people and that could be attached to you. So I expect that you, my reader, could have come up with labels I have never thought of.
Allow me, then, to give a few examples, even if they are far from what you came up with. Then make a comment at the end of this post, to let me know what you came up with when you started labelling. I’d love to know what you are coming up with.
You may have labelled yourself based on your gender: man, woman, boy or girl. You may have labelled yourself based on relationships: wife, son, grandad, auntie, etc. You may have labelled yourself based on age: kid, adult, teen, octogenarian, etc. You may have labelled yourself based on activity: uni student, musician, salesman, housewife, consultant, etc, or career: bookkeeper, teacher, businessman, engineer, etc. You may have labelled yourself based on spiritual status: Christian, atheist, new-ager, agnostic, etc. Or you may have labelled yourself by your personal features: hulk, doll, giant, fatso, red-head, muscle-man, Caucasian, etc.
But we’ve only just scratched the surface. You could be a home-owner or renter, an invalid, pensioner, graduate, champion, Liverpool or Dallas Cowboys supporter, soprano, hero, actor, superstar, and so the list goes on.
The Labels that Count
Of all the labels people come up with some are completely unimportant while other impact their whole life. But because people do not know who they are they can spend their whole life distracted by a label that has no significance at all.
In the much loved Peanuts comics by Charles Shulz, popular from the 1960’s, there were several characters who were preoccupied with their meaningless characteristics. Charlie Brown felt like a loser while five year old Frieda was absorbed by her “naturally curly hair”. Meanwhile Charlie’s dog, Snoopy, became absorbed with imaginations about himself as a hero.
None of the labels that distracted these characters deserved to have a lasting place in their lives. And Shulz was pointing out to his audience that being concerned about irrelevant things is a waste of our time and energies.
Do You Know What is What?
If you do not know what the important labels are and you do not know what labels best describe you then you do not truly know who you are and how you fit in the world. You run the serious risk of missing your destiny, ruining things that belong to you and filling your life with irrelevant things.
In the Narnia stories by C.S. Lewis we are introduced to Shasta, a boy serving as a slave. The boy and his master did not know that the lad was a prince and an heir to the throne in another land. The boy could have spent his life as a slave, but that is not how Lewis allowed it to play out.
In the 2008 cartoon movie, Kung Fu Panda, we find a misfit panda who has a vastly different destiny to that imagined for him by his ‘father’. The fat panda could easily have missed his life calling.
In these and a myriad other examples we know of people who wore labels that wrongly described them, or which limited them from their true potential.
Revelation of Destiny
The Bible contains several examples of people who were given a new, divinely endorsed label, which transformed their life.
Gideon was called a “mighty man of valour”, while he was hiding from the enemy.
Peter, James and John were called to be “fishers of men”, while they had only caught fish up to that time.
Moses was called to be a deliverer of Israel, while he was in extended exile from Egypt, doing no more than mind sheep.
Elisha, Jehu and several prophets were called, unexpectedly, from their natural life, to a divine purpose.
What About You?
If God were to speak with you right now, which of the labels you used to describe yourself would He say was the most important? Would He likely have a new and better label for you?
And what about the other person you thought of? What divine label would God have for them? Would He be impressed with the labels you have chosen to describe them?
If God turned up and gave you three completely new labels, wonderful and full of blessing, what would you want them to be? Which labels would you love to have removed from your life?
Who Are You?
Now, I’ve started you thinking, even if only for a moment or two. So, let me ask you again, “Who are you?”
Write a list of five words that describe the Real You.
Write another five words that describe who you are in God’s sight.
Write another five words to describe who you are politically.
Then try another five words that describe who you are in relationship with others.
Then, email those lists to me, so I can see who in the world is reading this to – firstname.lastname@example.org
Oh, and you can put your thoughts as a comment on this post as well.