This week, I read chapters 7 and 8 of Derwin Gray’s Limitless Life book for the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study. Chapter 7 is called “From Consumer to Contributor.” I had a butt scrunch moment when I read about psychologist Philip Cushman’s description of what he calls the “Empty Self.” I felt a little touchy when I read this:
The empty self is all about itself. Its hopes and dreams revolve around making its life better and more comfortable at others’ expense. It has very little concern for the needs of those around it unless meeting someone else’s needs helps it achieve its desires.
Scrunch! See what I mean? How many times have I made a decision in life based on my own needs? It’s happened countless times as a mother, daughter, sibling, friend, neighbor, employee. Yes, I know these moments aren’t what define me, but they are a warning that I can quickly take on the persona of what Derwin* calls the “Empty Self of the Consumer.” We can ALL take on that persona pretty quickly, can’t we?
Thank God that my Empty Self** doesn’t have to stay empty! God gives me a new label. This is the part of the chapter I really liked! Derwin reminded me that I am an ambassador: “an authorized messenger or representative of a higher authority.” And furthermore:
I started thinking about that: what if I lived my days like an ambassador of the King, and behaved like He was reflected in me? And then I did something crazy. I decided to wear a nametag that says “Ambassador” for one day, to see how it would change my perception of myself. I used one of the nametags I made for the photo above, and put it on before arriving at work.
I had a lot of my coworkers ask me, “What’s up with your nametag?” and I got to tell them about Derwin’s book and the reminder that we are all Ambassadors. (I work at my church and all of my coworkers are Christ-followers, so they are Ambassadors too.) But, honestly, the nametag wasn’t for them. It was a reminder to me that I am not my own; I am God’s daughter before I am anything else. One of my tasks that day was to write a stack of notes to a group of people in my church who are being baptized this Sunday at our annual baptism celebration. I sat at my desk, reminded myself to be an Ambassador, and poured out prayers for each of the baptizees. It was a good way to spend my workday.
Derwin also writes this in Chapter 7:
When you signed up to follow Jesus, He gave you the ministry of reconciliation. You are a reconciler. Your life is a bridge over which people walk from death to life.
I can’t explain how badly my soul needed to hear that reassurance! I am in the midst of feeling disqualified in various arenas, and this truth reminds me: no matter what my title is, no matter who I live with, no matter if my parents are living or dead, no matter who stopped being my friend… I am a minister/caretaker/reconciler of souls. God gave me that honor and responsibility long ago. It has been easy for me to fill my days with other duties and quickly lose sight of this priority. I pray I can remember my qualifications as a reconciler.
*Yes, I write about Derwin as if we are on a first-name basis. Humor me, y’all!
**Does anyone else envision an empty shelf every time they read the term “Empty Self?” I keep imagining my life as an empty shelf before Jesus came to fill it! Maybe that’s just quirky imagery in my mind.