Suppose you wanted to get to know about a person but could spend no time with her or him. Let’s suppose that while you can’t spend any time with that person you can e-mail a few questions for a response. Where would you begin?
If the person you were wanting to know about were me (or anyone else), you might consider the following:
- Talk to my family. My family will tell you what I am like when no one else is looking.
- Talk to my friends. I have some long-time friends who could tell you a lot.
- Talk to people in churches where I’ve served. Talk with people in Florence, Alabama; Kansas City, Missouri; and Waco, Texas.
- Talk with the people I work with every day. What am I like in the office every day? What am I like to work with?
- Go through my checkbook registers. Check out the way I spend money. Look at my giving. What does my spending say about me?
- Ask me in an e-mail what I’ve been praying for.
- Ask me in an e-mail if I am angry or frustrated about anything. What is the focus of this frustration or anger?
- Listen to CDs of my sermon messages. What are some of the recurring themes?
- Skim through my journals. Now I don’t write these with the anticipation that anyone will be reading them; however, for the sake of discussion, you might ask what reoccuring themes are present.
Now, take all of this information and write a summary of your findings. This can be no longer than five pages. In these five pages, write your perception of me based upon the information above.
Now I am going to read your report.
- Am I surprised by what you have written about me? Do I perceive myself in much the same way or is my self-perception very different?
- Could it be that the perception of others is very different than what I thought?
- How do I react to this report? Anger? Embarrassment? Encouraged?
So what’s the point of this?
I have a certain perception of myself. Accurate or inaccurate–this is what I perceive. It could be that I am looking at myself for who I really am. It could be that I have blind spots and don’t see some real flaws. It could be I don’t see what everyone else sees in my life.
I also realize that others have a certain perception of me. Some people are very preoccupied with what others are thinking. Some are not. Again, some of us may be very misinformed as to what people really think of us.
Am I trying to create a certain perception or am I just being me? Do I live with an unhealthy self-consciousness? Or, am I becoming less and less self-conscious and more God-conscious?
Most important, I need to think about how God sees me. Who knows me better than God? Yes, I am loved and forgiven. But does he see that I am finding my real identity in him? As a Christian, my relationship to him through his son, Jesus, is the most critical marker of my identity. Yet, far too many of us are finding our identity elsewhere.