Lesson 1 Who are You?
The students appeared to be ready so Joseph began. “I am thrilled that you have all made it. Tonight we will take some time discussing getting to know truth about who you really are. Most people are in denial about who they really are or are deceived.”
Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. – 2 Corinthians 13:5
Sam was nodding as he thought about all of the people that he knew that were simply in denial that they were wasting their lives. Those people made Sam sick and he felt his skin grow hot as he considered them in anger. Eric sat smiling. Julie looked at her hands and bit her lip a little bit. Sarah wrote down every word.
“Our goal here is to examine our choices, to consider who we want to be and where we really are. But for this to be effective you are going to have to be honest. We are going to have to go to others in our lives and ask them to be really honest with us.” Joseph looked at the students and they seemed to be tracking but none looked too sure. “Consider those reality talent shows that are often on television. Often times there are people who are on the show to make us laugh because they obviously have no talent. They are there to sing, but they simply are unable to sing on key. They look like fools and we all get a good chance to laugh at them.” All of the students began to laugh and snicker. “I, too, used to watch the beginning of the season of these shows just to see the talentless look foolish. But I realized one day that these people are serious. Nobody told them that they could not sing. They never listened to themselves. No one ever seriously helped them to discover their real talents. These people established their hopes and dreams on a lie.”
Suddenly the students look a bit embarrassed. “It would have been better if someone had loved them enough to tell them that they lacked a talent for singing but maybe pointed out something they could do well. At the very least someone that loved these unfortunate people and could have directed them to singing lessons.”
All of the students smiled. Julie squirmed a little bit and then raised her hand. With a nod from Joseph she coughed and then said, “My mom tells me that I can be whatever I want to be and nobody should tell me what I can or cannot do. I mean who am I to tell someone that they cannot sing. Have you heard some of the professionals out there?”
Joseph considered her words with a smile. “There is truth in that statement. Some professionals get to the top we know not how. Ultimately God takes the unqualified for great tasks and then qualifies them later on. Think of Moses when he was called. He was an 80 year old shepherd who had been out of the Egypt mainstream for 40 years. Or consider Gideon who was actually hiding when the angel called him, ‘Mighty warrior.’” Julie looked pleased with herself. She looked around to see if anyone else noticed how smart she was. People had always looked at her as a beauty but no brains.
“While all of that is true, how would you feel if your family told you constantly that you were the best singer in the world and then they convinced you to go on one of those shows?” Julie cringed a little bit. “We must find people who are looking out for our best interests not just what we want. If we can sing, we need someone to help us get better. Like an Olympic athlete, needs a coach. We need one in all areas of our lives. If we have a tin ear we need someone to lovingly help us find that area that we are gifted in so that we can spend our time developing the gifts God has given us and not waste time with those areas where we are not designed to live in. While it is true that amazing and surprising things come into your life despite a lack of talent, it is better to focus on the talents that you do have.”
Sarah chewed on her pen and stared into the fire.
“But I am getting sidetracked. Career and talent issues are only one area where we must be honest with ourselves. We must look at our whole being. History shows people who might have been great leaders but were terrible husbands and fathers. Others might have been brilliant educators but terrible in social situations. For our efforts to be effective we must look at our entire being. All of us are much more than simply professionals or parents or children. We are living breathing human beings that long to grow physically, mentally, Spiritually and socially.
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:52
Additionally, we have values that we live by and hold others accountable to uphold yet often we fall short in these areas ourselves.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? –Matthew 7:3
Most do not do this on purpose. We just tend to look out of the window rather than take any time to look in the mirror. One of your assignments this week is to create a list of all of the values that you either live by, or would like to live by. I suggest that you start with those things that you most dislike about others.” Joseph looked around at all of the students. His eyes rested on Sam. Joseph stared at him until Sam looked down at the ground. Joseph then made his way around the room looking at each one until they looked away.
“I have friends that are fighting for the environment who drive SUVs to rallies where they leave trash everywhere. I have been to churches where they teach on acceptance and grace but also shun those who have committed crimes or smell funny. Most people are not even living up to their own standards, much less those of others. What I am challenging you to do is to become true to yourself.”
“Why would someone not live up to their own standards?” Sam asked in a whisper as if he did not mean to speak it out loud.
“The most common reason is fear. We live life fully terrified of what others think of us. Confrontation is something that most people are not comfortable with so we go with the flow. We are also afraid to establish our own values. Every child starts out by taking on the values of those that are raising them. However, there comes a time where the child must decide if those are his or her values or not. This is again where we must be honest. Is this a value that is really important to me or did I inherit it from my parents?”
“How do we make such a list?” Sarah had stopped writing.
“I include specific Bible verses like the ten commandments. I want others not to break them so I need to check myself to make sure that I don’t violate them myself. It would be good to point out that with that one I hold myself to Jesus’ definition of murder and adultery. That is the higher standard. I encourage you to aim high.”
Sam was writing quickly and Joseph waited for him to come to a stop.
“I also include things from my past that I have found to be a good standard to live by. These include things like the Boy Scout laws and military leadership principles. Anything that establishes a standard will work well.
“How would I have time to do anything else?” Eric asked.
“We don’t need to evaluate every single value every single day. Make a list and take about five to ten minutes every day to evaluate how you are doing. By the way you need to journal this examination. It is too easy to phone it in if you only do it in your own mind.”
Joseph stopped for a moment and shifted the logs on the fire. He gave everyone a few moments to refresh their tea. Eric pulled a donut out of his pocket and took a big bite. Jelly squirted out one side and ran down the front of his sweatshirt. He wiped it up with his sleeve and finished the rest of the donut. Julie thought it was pretty funny and moved from the fireplace next to Eric on the couch.
“So we start with evaluating ourselves, from there we need to find others to speak into our lives. People who know what we are trying to achieve and will help us get there. I read once of a young man who decided that he wanted to be a big league baseball player when he was eleven years old. The truth is that the professional sports dream is common among boys that age. Why is it that so few make it?”
Eric shrugged. Sam looked around, “Most people just lack talent.”
“That is true. I went to high school with a guy who had the talent but he never made it. I am going to suggest that they most typically lack the discipline and the coaching. This young man joined three different baseball teams. He was very deliberate in who he chose to coach him. One was an expert at strategy; another was an expert at batting and the third an expert on defense. Ultimately, each of these held him accountable to do whatever it took to become a professional. Think of all of the areas of your life where you want to get better. These people holding you accountable can make a real difference in your growth. Finding specific experts for assorted parts of your life is good. But you also need some folks who are helping you to stay balanced. I suggest two or three folks that will call on you periodically and see how you are doing. They need to be close enough to you to see your life. My wife does some of this for me. I also have others that I have personally invited to challenge me.”
Sam looked skeptical. Julie was obviously struggling with the concept. “I can’t think of anyone that would say anything negative about me.”
“We need people that will speak honestly into our lives. We need people that can tell us when we are living hurtful lives and we won’t spend all of our time defending ourselves. We are great at justifying all of our mistakes and sins. While we must evaluate ourselves we must find other voices who can tell us truth when we are too blind to see it. Do you have anyone that can call out any incongruities in your life?”
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. –Proverbs 27:17
“There is one final group that you should develop to help you get to know yourself and also help hold you accountable. I call this group my dead guy counsel.”
All of the students looked perplexed.
“Being dead is not required of course. In fact one of mine is alive. But I have a group of thirteen people from history that I have spent time studying their lives and I try to consider how they would approach any challenge that I am facing. For example one of these for me is Jesus. He is my one living member of the council. I ask the simple question, ‘What would Jesus do?’ I consider any situations that He had that would be similar. I also look at others and consider what they might do. Sometimes my council will disagree. Mother Theresa and Genghis Khan rarely agree. Beethoven despises Napoleon so that makes for interesting conversation in my mind.”
After a short time of questions and answers Sarah clarified the assignment for week one. The list is below in the worksheet. Sam closed week one in prayer.
Lesson 1 Worksheet Getting to know yourself
For those hard chargers out there, I know that you can do this whole worksheet in one sitting. But take the full week to fine tune, to improve and really design your life change plan.
Project 1: Find living/ breathing mentors: This week you can take this as far as you are able. But at least make the list of potential men and women who can help you. Consider people to help you in all of the following areas. Also consider a list for special situation mentors, for example: you are looking to buy a house or move to another community.
Write your list of potential mentors. They do not need to have it all together. But they should be highly qualified to instruct you in whatever area that you asking them to mentor you in. Notice there is space for three names in each category. This serves two purposes. 1) In case one does not work out you have a plan B and a plan C. Feel free to move to plan Z if needed. 2) Once you complete your time with one, it might be beneficial to find a second or third mentor to continue your development.
Physical Health _____________________________________________
Project 2: Write a list of values that you can examine daily behavior against. Specific Scripture verses, Boy Scout Laws, Club codes,etc make great inspiration for these values.
Project 3: Make a list of three people that you want to hold you accountable toward personal growth.
Project 4: Create your dead guy council.
- Choose someone that is courageous enough to tell you when you stink.
- Choose someone that has something to offer.
- Meet with them first and establish a solid understanding of how the mentorship relationship will go. Discuss how long you will work together and what the expectations are for both parties.
- Follow through with all expectations. Do not waste your mentor’s time.
- Always show up on time or call to reschedule as needed. NEVER BE LATE.
- Listen carefully to everything they tell you.
- Ask questions to clarify and help your understanding.