Have you noticed all the quizzes on Facebook these days? Take a short test and learn which Disney character you most resemble, or who your literary soulmate is, or what era of history you belong in. We human beings are fascinated with ourselves and how we fit in the world. If we really want to figure ourselves out, there are many professional assessments from which to choose. We can build quite a profile:
~Are you an introvert or extrovert? (Did you know there is even an ambivert?)
~Which one of the four personalities are you in the DISC personality assessment?
~Which one of the 16 personalities are you in the Myers-Briggs personality assessment?
~What are your top five leadership strengths?
~What are your spiritual gifts?
~What is your preferred learning style?
~Which of the nine intelligences do you possess?
~What is your IQ?
And this is just part of a long list.
I’m not minimizing the value of learning about ourselves. It is enlightening and even fun to understand how God made us. It helps us to become more aware and better leaders. However, who we are goes way beyond labels.
The personal assessment mentioned above usually identify positive or neutral characteristics. Sometimes we receive labels from others in our lives.
Outgoing. Shy. Smart. Slow learner. Stupid. Beautiful. Full figured. Fat. Ugly. Athletic. Clumsy. Driven. Lazy. Worthless. Failure…
People can inflict great damage from their use of labels.
Regardless of the labels you have received, you are so much more than labels.
Labels may describe aspects of ourselves. But they are limited. They may or may not be true. They cannot describe everything about us. And they certainly do not define us.
A couple weeks ago at a counseling session, I took an assessment regarding a trauma that occurred earlier this year. As I result I was diagnosed with PTSD. I felt shaken and frustrated that the event continues to affect me, and I reached out to a friend who shared words of wisdom.
“I hear what you are saying, that the diagnosis of PTSD is disappointing. Know it is only a path to healing, not an identity.”
Thank God for this friend and her reminder! This label does not define me. The work of God is working in me.
Being an introvert does not keep me from loving people. Preferring to work alone does not prevent me from working with a team. Being detail-oriented does not mean I cannot develop visionary skills. The diagnosis of PTSD will not cripple me from doing the things the Lord has asked of me. It is a pathway to experience more of Him in my life.
What about you? Do you realize that God is at work in you?
The One who knows your thoughts before you are even aware and has counted every hair on your head is working to transform you into the image of Christ.
The Lover of your soul is teaching you to love. He is working in the midst of your closest relationships.
The Healer is strengthening you by His mighty power. He sees your current diagnosis or health challenge and is closer than you know.
The King of all kings has set you in your current place of leadership. Even when the task seems too large for your experience and abilities, He is equipping you with everything you need to do His will.
Don’t put too much authority on the labels in your life. Use them as tools and discard the ones that are damaging. You are so much more than labels. You are a cherished child of our Heavenly Father who has a special plan for your life and is working in you to fulfill it.
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think (Ephesians 3:19-20, NLT).
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your perfect love. Help me to remember that the labels in life do not define me. I am who You say I am, and You are working in me to become more than I could ask or imagine. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.