Tools For HeartConnexion® Living
Choose the Fundamental Source of Your Self-Worth
“If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!” – Romans 4:6 f – The Message
What is the source of your self-worth – not just in theory but in your everyday experience? Who could say to you, “You are incredibly valuable.” and you would never doubt your self-worth again? Aren’t we all looking for some person or some experience to affirm to us that we are valuable and that we will remain valued without having to perform perfectly? Who could really do that for you? Where are you looking?
Nowhere in the Bible is there any support for the idea that we will find our value by matching as closely as possible some ideal physical appearance. There is no Scriptural suggestion to seek our value in possessions, or in the choices our children do or don’t make, or in the degree of perfection in doing good works (even ministry), or in meeting our family’s expectations, or in a thousand other things or other people. There is no stability in the affirmation of things or people. We are at risk if they withdraw the praise or if we lose the possession. The result is fear, not freedom.
In the passage above, Paul teaches us that God has already extravagantly declared our self-worth through Christ’s death and that His desire for friendship with us is eternally valid. That truly is Good News! Doesn’t it seem strange that we allow the absence of socially accepted sources of self-worth, or the lack of validation in our vocation, or even the lack of affirmation by peers or family members to rob us of the declaration of our worth by God? Why does our heart sometimes beat so excitedly after receiving praise from an earthly authority figure and yet seem so calm when we read passages of Scripture like the one above?
There is a story about a young person seeking spiritual maturity who asked his spiritual mentor how to best respond to criticism and to praise. The young seeker was told, “Go to a graveyard and criticize the dead as loud as you can.” Later, the mentor asked what the dead had done in response to criticism. The seeker responded, “Nothing. They remained silent.” The mentor then said, “Go back and praise them loudly.” The young seeker returned later and reported that the dead stayed just as silent as before. The wise mentor suggested, “Do the same as the dead; human judgment no longer affects them for they stand always in the sight of God.”
We all like the praise of people who are close to us or whose opinions are important to us. We all dread the criticism of the same people. We want to stand before them looking good and avoid them when we can’t come off looking so together. That is about being human. Yet, we have a choice to not allow their praise or their criticism to become the primary source of our self-worth. From the earliest days of the church, believers have intentionally practiced spiritual disciplines to remind themselves of the lavish invitation to lead lives that expand and deepen their experience of the love relationship with God. We, too, can remind ourselves of the God whom we “stand before” and who takes great delight in us, even now before we die. This has the capacity to increase our awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit as comforter, as confidant and as guide. That is real freedom.
What spiritual disciplines could you use to increase your awareness of His eternal delight in you? How would your life change if you were consistently aware of God’s delight in you, rather than remembering it “once in a while on a really good day?” What time and sacrifice are you willing to exchange to experience that kind of affirmation and freedom?
Small Group Sharing:
- Are you on contract?
- Who are you?
- How have you shifted positions this week? What were the results?
- How did you share your heart this week?
- What was your private victory?
- What challenge or dilemmas are you facing and how can we help?
- How would your life be different if you started using this tool for HeartConnexion living?
Dr. Paul D. Fitzgerald, ©1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 HeartConnexion Ministries
Story adapted from A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People, Upper Room Press, 1990