As I start off on yet another “radical” (I actually don’t think it is that radical, but plenty of others think so…so I’ll go with it) adventure serving the refugee community in Dallas, I’m yet again faced with the underlying fear that constantly lurks in the background of my always-processing introverted mind: “You’re of little value.”
This fear seems to surface when I’m experiencing something with money, so it would make sense to feel some perceived loss of worth as I’m raising funds for the work of Free City International.
Much of my life has been spent trying to quiet this voice with high achievement in any and all areas of life: academics, sports, health, finances…trying to “prove” to myself that I am valuable to someone, to society, to God.
The problem is, none of these things can actually provide true, lasting worth. If we’re not more than the sum of our achievements…if we’re not more inherently valuable in our “being” rather than our “doing,” then we’re stuck on the roller coaster of highs and lows: self-esteem and shame.
Back to my job. I remember a time in seminary that someone understood my career ambitions as “she wants to help people” (their words). I remember feeling degraded – “helping people” sounds so much less dignified than business executive or lawyer or doctor or professor. “Helping people” is something everyone can do, while the rest of the professionals “earn their keep” through multi-layered degrees, titles, and high salaries.
But the funny thing is, now that I’m actually in the profession of “helping people,” I couldn’t think of a more worthy identity. Sure, I’m of more value in God’s sight than what I do to help people, (PREACH!) but putting that aside, I can think of nothing more worthy of giving my life to.
When I die, if my gravestone reads: “She helped people,” I feel assured that this is the “well done good and faithful servant” I strive for. If this was Jesus’s work while he walked this earth, why would I be tricked into thinking that it is an unworthy ambition?
Friends, I urge you to be faithful in the little things and simply love God and your neighbor. What does it look like to leave your co-worker’s world a bit brighter than before you came? What does it look like to listen deeply to another’s story of pain? What does it look like to make your ambition helping the people that God has put in your path?