“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy & dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness & patience. Bear with each other & forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
As I have made my way through this perilous world, somewhere along the way my sense of self became damaged by some of the erroneous & harmful ideas disseminated by the culture. One of the main ways that I was damaged in my sense of self, was in how in many different ways, some subtle, others more blatant, I was given the message that being the way that I was was either not good enough, not worthy, or just not welcome. According the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory, I am mostly identified with the INTJ classification. This means that I am an Intuitive Thinker, with a depth of feeling & keenness of discernment, which is the “J” or the “judging” factor in the INTJ. I am also a very conscientious, broad-minded, & highly creative individual. Apparently, my “type” is not only rare, but is also the type least acknowledged by this world, & coincidentally, the least existentially actualized & fulfilled. Although this is definitely through no fault of our own, as another salient feature of INTJ's is that we have strong desire & need to continue growing & learning as people, so that we can help others & be the best we can be. We are the type that often steps outside of our comfort zone, as we possess a genuine & profound love for soul expansion. We are also very selective & usually reserved when it comes to our social interactions & the people that we let into our lives. This is often shamed, & misunderstood by this current milieu as either being snobbery and/or anti-social tendencies, but we just have very healthy & strong boundaries, because we understand the harm that can come out of not exercising good boundaries, both with ourselves & with others. Another way that this feature of our personality is wrongly labelled, is as being some sort of social ineptitude or 'shyness.' In truth, we are often circumspect & discerning, but rarely 'shy,' being as mature-minded as we often are.
Although, I have to admit that we are a 'type' that is very awkward when it comes to more superficial social interactions. But this is not, as it is often shamed, a quality of inferiority. On the contrary, we are often the type that others refer to as the most congruent, or authentic & deep. And some of the rigours of sociability in Western-especially modern, Western society are exhausting for us, & we just desire to use our time on this earth wisely & not waste it on things that ultimately do not promote & nurture that of our own growth in a healthy, positive direction. Nevertheless, every 'type' gets misunderstood in some way, & shamed for being the way that they are in this world. I just wanted to give a brief segue into the purpose of this article/essay. The message that I wish to share with those who are reading this is: You are perfect exactly the way that you are, and that God can meet you wherever & whoever you are. Now, of course I don't mean that we should never grow or learn, or allow the Lord to 'prune our branches', & weed out some of our more sinister and pathological qualities. I just mean it in the sense that there isn't just one way to serve the Lord, & there isn't just one 'personality type' who is equipped and called to serve the Lord. His creation is magnificently & awesomely diverse! And so are we as individuals! What you have to offer is uniquely yours, just as what I or anyone else has to offer are uniquely mine & theirs.
For example, I am often plagued with a feeling of inadequacy because I am not an 'evangelist' or a servant of God in the conventional sense of being a Lead Pastor of a church or even a deacon or some other such Public Figure. And I often feel like I am not a 'good enough' servant of the Lord, because the culture & society in which I live exalts a very specific image of what an 'ideal' servant of the Lord acts like, walks like, talks like, and just is like. Many of us who are more systematic & meticulous about our approach, especially in regards to matters which we know are of utmost gravity & seriousness, such as spreading the Light & Hope of the Gospel to people through our ministrations, just do not fit into the 'Type A' extroverted model of what a spiritual 'leader' should be. But the Lord God created & molded me into the person that I am proud to say I am today. And no one should allow, if they are called, anyone to discourage them in their own individual nuances of godly service. The main way that I minister to my fellow human beings is not only through living by the commandments set forth by God to love & serve God with all of my heart, body, mind & soul, but also to love others & to treat them with the same dignity & respect that I wish to be treated with. It's really very simple when you think of it. And I also use my linguistic & other intellectual abilities in service to Him & others who need enlightening, uplifting, comforting, & encouragement.
Now, I cannot accomplish these things when I am living in my flesh instead of walking by the Spirit. But I can when I pray without ceasing throughout my day to remain connected to the voice of the Lord & how He wants to live through me, & then follow that up with a full submission to Him & a total faith & trust in Him, placing Him as the Lord over my body, my mind, my soul, my talents, my time & in general, my life. But, like everyone else, I am a work in progress. But the Lord looks at the heart-the inner man. And when He sees us meeting Him in the middle, He blesses us. We must just persevere & go wherever He leads us, not matter what our natural temperaments, personalities, or capacities might be. It breaks my heart-and certainly also the Lord God's-to see so many people discouraged & shamed into non-being, merely because of the works of the Evil One to use the culture to make people feel inadequate or somehow unwanted merely for being the wonderful, beautiful way that they were created to be. If you minister & serve the Lord by writing poetry, do it unto the Lord with all of your Being! If you are a Pastor of a church, do it unto the Lord with all of your Being! If you are a Barista at a coffee-shop, serve the Lord there & do it with all of your Being! There is no one path that we have to take in order to serve Him & to fulfill His purpose & perfect plan here upon this earth. He can do all things for those who are willing! He meets us where we're at!
When I was younger, I, too, was plagued by all of these questions: Which University should I attend? Which church should I attend? Which job should I take? What vocation should I devote my life to? And it worried me that maybe, when I had finally made a decision, this wasn't where the Lord wanted me to go & perhaps I had taken the wrong path. Now, He has blessed me with the perspective that comes with experience, & I know that the where, when, what, & how are not important. It's the why. Why did I choose this particular job, or this particular church, etc.? If my motives are anything by completely submitted to pleasing & serving His purpose for my life, then, and only then, am I amiss. There are an infinitude of paths that any one individual can take. Do not let the Evil One hang you up on particulars. Take the first step in Faith & godly pursuit, & He will lead you! Most of us do not live the glamorous lives as depicted on television & in 'celebrity culture'. But guess what? Neither do they! Being an 'ordinary' vessel of the Lord Jesus is, for me, truly the highest honour, for He is the only being worthy of all praise & glory. That is not to say, that being a mere mortal vessel of Almighty God makes anyone dull, or lacking in talent, or brilliance. Everyone is gifted by our Creator & Heavenly Father with something that makes us all shine, & makes us all “fearfully & wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14) It just means that we acknowledge as His Word reminds us that, “In Him we move & have our being. (Acts 17:28).”
Furthermore, it acknowledges that, in a very literal sense of the term, He is our Creator & our Sustainer. We do not take any breath upon this earth without His express consent! He truly is Lord over all, & we are nothing without Him! All that I have ever managed to accomplish on this earth is only because of the magnificent Spirit of Christ at work through me & in me! I could not even be writing this essay without His power & life flowing through my veins! Indeed, even when we are servile to the darker aspects of this human condition, & choose to do evil over good, it is still He who protects us from total ruin, & chastises us afterward to draw us back to Him. (Revelation 3:19 “Those whom I love I rebuke & discipline.”) No mind or heart can conceive of His love & care for us with every step we take, & every breath that we take. And no mind nor heart can conceive what He has in store for those who love, revere & glorify Him! (1 Corinthians 2:9) And although it is process, & everyone begins imperfectly formed, spiritually speaking, we can have faith that He will complete His work in us as long as we submit in total dependence to His works within our innermost beings, & lives (Philippians 1:6). God does not show favourtism to either 'Introvert' or 'Extrovert.' He values & loves all of us equally & expects us to devote our time, our talents, & ourselves to Him, & Him alone. We will stray, but He will never allow us to walk down that dark path for too long before reminding us to Whom we belong, and before reminding us that the Evil One always works the hardest to dim the lights of those who shine with His Truth, Light & Love.
“For Thou hast made us for Thyself, & our hearts are restless 'til they find their rest in Thee.”
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
P.S. And remember, dear ones, do not mistake a lack of worldly recognition for a lack of worth or value. On the contrary, if you feel a constant sense of existential nullity as it relates this world, you are probably on the right path! And there is nothing wrong with being an outcast, mocked & spurned treasure-storer in Heaven. Amen!
“...Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it onto completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. For you have died, & your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you will also appear with Him in glory.”
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