Who are you?
A seemingly simple question that is quite difficult for me to answer.
In my counselor’s office late one Thursday afternoon, she posed the question to me: “Jenni, who are you?” Trying to understand the question behind the question, I turned it back around on her and said, “Isn’t that what you’re supposed to be helping me figure out?”
I knew that I wasn’t going to get off that easily as she flipped open her oversized sketchbook (the sacred journal where she keeps all her clients’ deepest secrets in picture form) and began to draw a series of circles, one encompassing the other. She described the rings of this haphazardly sketched lopsided bull’s-eye based on Thomas Keating’s levels of awareness.
The outer ring was my false self – all the things that I try to be, want to be, and pretend to be in order to get others to approve of me.
The next ring was my ordinary life – the things that I do and the things that I hang my worth on (my career, my abilities, and my family).
The next ring was my spiritual awareness – the things that are my attempts to grow closer to God (church attendance, prayer, devotions, worship, and so on).
And the final ring (the bull’s-eye) was my true self.
When she asked me to define this core, I was at a loss. Week after week in our meetings she asked me if I could define my true self, and repeatedly I came up short. Essentially she was saying, “Jenni, who are you?” and I had no answer.
Have you ever wrestled with that question too?
When you take all the busyness and the ordinariness of life away, can you define who you are at the core?
I’ve struggled with this question for most of my life. My temptation is to answer that question with all the things that I do… all the things that make me feel significant, valuable, meaningful.
The more I keep wrestling with that question, the more God reminds me of this simple but powerful truth:
To know yourself you have to know your Creator.
In order to fully understand your plan, your purpose, your intention, your influence – what I call your clout – you have to get to know the one who created you. We have to understand his design and plans. In understanding him, we will better understand ourselves.
In Ephesians we learn, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose He is working out in everything and everyone” (1:11-12 MSG).
I love that. Long before we heard of him, He had His eye on us. That’s a glimpse of how well God knows us.
We are made in His image. He has bestowed us with gifts specific to the purpose for which He has designed us. When we take all of that into consideration, it stands to reason that understanding our God-given influence means getting to know the One who created us. The journey to the center of who we are begins with discovering more about the One who designed us. We learn to find confidence in who we are because of Him. His voice becomes more and more familiar, and we begin to step more confidently into our God-given influence.
I believe with all my heart that God calls each of us to great things. His plans and purposes for us are beyond our wildest imaginations. But they will simply be imaginations and unmet expectations if we skip over this deep understanding of who we are in Him. It begins and ends there.
We are nothing apart from Him.
Helping others better define their God-given influence is a driving passion of my life. In my recent book, Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence, I share more of my personal story and invite you to further explore how God has equipped you to impact the world in a way that no one else can. You have a specific purpose, a calling that only you are qualified to fulfill. My prayer is that as you seek to know Him better, God will continue to equip you with the clout that allows you to live out all the plans He’s designed for you.
This week Nelson Books is giving away 5 copies of Jenni’s book, Clout! Enter to win a copy by commenting on this post. Winners will be chosen randomly after midnight on Friday, July 18.
Ask anyone who knows her well, and you’ll hear words like hard-working, loyal, insightful and encouraging to describe Jenni Catron. A self-proclaimed “leadership junkie,” Jenni spends her days serving the local church. Most recently she served for nine years as the Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, where she led the staff and oversaw the ministry of its five campuses. Prior to joining the staff of Cross Point, she worked in Artist Development in the Christian music industry.
Jenni’s passion is to lead well and to inspire, equip and encourage others to do the same. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently in the different spheres of influence God has granted them. Jenni blogs at www.jennicatron.com and contributes to a number of other online publications including churchleader.com and catalystspace.com. Outreach Magazine has recognized Jenni as one of the 30 emerging influencers reshaping church leadership and she has been featured in Church Executive magazine as well.