If someone asked me why I do what I do. The first response would be, “I love what I do.” For the past couple of months I have been reflecting on the reasons I spend hours weekly praying, thinking, and preparing myself for ministry opportunities. Ministry opportunities for me don’t end or begin when I start up my bible app on my tablet or when I open my old bible, but every opportunity presented to me to speak is ministry. I have discovered that an ingredient of excellence is when you realize that every opportunity you are given to interact with people leaves a lingering smell (your smell) and a taste (your taste) with the audience. If you give a negative vibe that vibe will remain with your audience for the rest of your life (and their life) and the opposite is true with a positive vibe. I am one person who doesn’t go around fishing for feedback but feedback does come to me even if it’s not through the person effected.
There are lessons I have learnt over the years, particularly in the last two years of working for the church on a full time basis. Where I have people looking up to me for motivation, healing, restoration, relationships, family, marriages, studies, careers etc. I have began not only to just pray over scripture like I am praying over a meal, but I have found myself reading across disciplines so that I am at least conversant on a couple of issues that may impact those who listen to me week in and week out. Francis Bacon coined these words long time ago, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.” So I figured that in the journey and life of a minister one has to be very careful of the levels quoted by Bacon. As an educator I have to make sure in my subject area I don’t just taste a book, but I need to swallow, chew and digest. The same applies in Christian Ministry I need to swallow the words of the book, chew, and digest them.
A near perfect example of Bacon’s thought is a cow which partially digests food and then later regurgitates it from the first stomach to the mouth for a second chewing. In people language chewing the cud means to reflect or think carefully over something.
Psychology Today defines self-awareness as the accurate appraisal and understanding of your abilities and preferences and their implications for your behaviour and their impact on others. This definition brings up the element of accuracy. A few people I know have an accurate understanding of self, but there is always attempts to get to a place closest to accuracy. In psychology a person has the open self, hidden self, blind self and unknown self. The journey of doing what we love and being fulfilled takes us through these different concepts of self. Some of us have focused on the open self – that is, common knowledge involving things like interests, ambitions, abilities both I and others who know me, know. The open self is the what-you-see-is-what-you-get part. This is our limitation in life. We have focused too much on the obvious the common knowledge, this space is comfortable, it doesn’t stretch you to any levels beyond open self. We have found ourselves willing to settle for less than our best. The element of open self leaves a lot of room for exploration if only we could really dig deeper to find out what really makes us tick.
Unfortunately when we reflect on ourselves we get distracted by our culture and socialization. We get bogged down by the status quo’ and the circumstances that prevail around us. This morning I was discussing with a friend of mine that when I was doing my first grade, I shared certain things with my friends then, who laughed at me silly because they viewed me based on my current situation. Now I live in some of the things I spoke about in first grade. Circumstances then were against this dream, I don’t blame them for laughing at my dreams and aspirations. As I continued to grow and mature, I discovered things about me which I never knew existed except in my dreams. Daily I figure that there is more to me than what I have experienced. A fellow I met a couple of years ago shared these words, “The ceiling above you will become the floor you stand on tomorrow.” I have never forgotten those words, they ring in my head consistently.
Using the yardstick and the standards I had set for myself at first grade, I realize now that this is only the tip of the iceberg, there is more to me than the dreams of my childhood. For me to move forward I have to get tired of the level I am stuck in. I need to agree that there is a next level. I know how culture dictates to us, how we should live, what we should eat or shouldn’t, what we should study, and what we need to become. Take it from me I am happiest and most fulfilled when I do what I believe God has called me for, that is, “building bridges and changing lives.” I always thank God for having allowed me to go through all that I went through from my childhood; single parenthood sharpened me to become the hard worker I have become, the gospel pushed me to a point of excellence and thinking beyond what is normal and acceptable, and lastly education and travel has exposed me to different practices and ways of thinking.
Elements of Self
I want to quote the writing of Adrian Furnham, Ph.D., a Professor of Psychology at University College London and the Norwegian Business School, writing for Psychology Today:
Second to the concept open self is the Hidden Self which is the little box of secrets: things I know about me that others do not. This may contain stories of past events, odd beliefs and desires or socially unacceptable attitudes and beliefs. Things I know about myself that I have not disclosed come in various guises. There may be things I am ashamed about; or things that I really don’t think important or things simply best forgotten.
In my ministry and career I have learnt that I need to be able to know which parts of the “hidden self” do I need to let out of the bag. It would be folly for us to think that everything that’s hidden about us must come out in the open. What you reveal about your hidden self must be done for the benefit of others (not to kill them), your growth and maturity. It’s not supposed to be used to bring others down or to expose others for our own popularity gain. I am not saying die in your pain. I am aware that for wounds to heal we need to dig them, remove the pus, let them air dry so that they can heal. When we do that we should be ready and prepared for public scrutiny.
Third, its the Blind Self which is about things other people know about, see in, are sure of, me but which they have not told me. That is, I am blind to these supposed facts or at least reputation. Thus some people harbour odd beliefs about their appearance or abilities that are simply untrue…at least from an observer’s perspective. People are simply blind to the truth.
It is difficult to know your blind spots, majority of the time it’s those around you who will see and maybe to a certain extent bring attention to it. It becomes my duty to reflect on these and deal with them the best way I can. Critical to blind spots is to find someone trusted who will alert you when you are blinded. Once alerted, don’t resist but work on your blind spots.
And last, is the Unknown self – things neither I nor others know about me. Buried, repressed or long forgotten thoughts or even areas of potential. Perhaps they can be mined by therapists interested in, and supposedly able to, drag things from the murky unconscious into the bright light of day.
I love this part of self, its mystic and presents an adventure we need to go through as individuals who love what we do. Daily we go through things that expose deeper truths about ourselves. We need to invest in this area of truth.
As you continue with life, make sure you invest in doing what you love. I know how the world is devoid of opportunities concerning what you studied in school. Fortunately, for some of you what you studied in school is not what you love, but you did it because it was required of you to study something. Your assignment from today should be finding what you love. Once you find it, do it well to the level of personal satisfaction I promise you, your life will be fulfilled. Oh, I know about the economics that go with doing what you love. I know your parents, your church, your friends etc. expect you to be bored stiff so you can make money. I promised myself, I want to do what fulfills my heart, my heart of hearts, which for me is the pleasure of God for my life. That is why today I find myself being a preacher, motivator, educator, and counsellor. On top of that I am a daddy and hustler husband. I will not bend the rules when it suits me. I push not for greater levels but push for my heart.
If you are student of life, let life also be your student, let generations that are coming after you learn how to navigate life when faced with life challenges. Life can be taught a lesson you can also challenge life #LoveWhatYouDo