The apostle Peter begins his two letters like this: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.” “Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter & 2 Peter) One can only imagine how he would have introduced himself before he met Jesus: “Simon, owner and founder of Barjona Fishing Industries: Large and in charge and ready to meet any challenge!”
What changed? He met Jesus, and that changed everything.
I want you to think about these two questions for a moment, and I mean really pause and give this some thought:
Often when I am asked to speak to a group, the host will send me an email requesting a Bio for the introduction. Years ago I was very proud to have the host list my community and business accomplishments.
I typically left out that I had spent 15 years renovating houses simply because the host would too often call it ‘remodeling,’ which wasn’t nearly as high-brow sounding as ‘renovations.’ And I was careful to have him say I developed ‘communities,’ not ‘subdivisions,’ for the same reason.
Pride, to which I am no stranger, can be a silly thing.
Now, like the apostle Paul,14 “I consider them rubbish ….” (Philippians 3:8)
So how would someone introduce you? Or even better, how would you write your own introduction?
How you want to be defined, or how you want to be known, is a subtly powerful force in your life, and so often you are not even aware of it. How you want to be defined, what you want to be known for, will inform your decisions and often lead you to make choices you woefully regret: think Brian Williams, or Tiger Woods or Ray Rice.
On occasion I get to speak to sports teams – that defines me as really cool, right? – and I start by asking questions like these:
“Who in here wants to be known as the best player in the league? (Hands go up)
“Okay, that’s great. You should want that. But who in here would rather be known as the best student?” (Only a couple of hands go up – and they clearly aren’t starters!)
Or I might ask, “Who in here wants to be known as the best athlete in the league?” (Lots of hands up)
“Okay, but who would rather be known as the best son?” (Not so many)
There is nothing wrong or immoral with wanting and even striving to be the best at your position, or wanting and striving to win, but if that is all you care about, if that is the most important thing to you, you will undoubtable make choices that will compromise your life, and leave you asking, “What happened? How did I end up here?”
The answer? Because that’s what you … wanted.
Show me how you want to be defined and I’ll show you your life a few years from now.
You will absolutely miss the most important things in life if your focus is on the wrong things – not necessarily on bad things, often on good things, but certainly not the best things. If you don’t examine how you want to be defined you will make choices that define you, willing or not.
Toward the end of his career Peter wanted to be defined simply as, “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” And a few years later, as he wrote his second letter, he amended that to, “Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.” (Italics added) Certainly he could have claimed more earthly credentials than that. He was Peter, the rock! The top apostle!
But like Paul, as he looked back on his career and life, he concluded, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing14 Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish ….” (Philippians 3:8 Italics added)
What defines you? Or what will define you, if you don’t change course?
Take the time to write out your own introduction, and perhaps ask someone else to do the same for you. Is it what you would want?