Character

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Good character, the ever elusive pursuit of my life. As a three on the Enneagram, I am continually striving and chasing after success. I want to be excellent at everything I do. 

Why? Well that depends on where my heart might be at the time. In my strength I lean towards wanting to be the best, or successful, or valuable because I want to serve others. At my best, leaning to the two of my personality, I am successful when I am helping others. 

At the worst? In the place of weakness?  

I hate to say it, but I want to succeed so that people notice me. So that I am in the spotlight and seen. That I am esteemed and valued because of what I do and how well I do it. 

Either way, I WILL be successful. (For the most part.) I work really hard to make sure of that. At the end of the day, when I look back at what I have accomplished, whether I was driving to help or driving to be seen, that can really start to define me. It can be how I characterize myself. 

You on the outside, you who just sees the activities and pursuits of the three, you generally just see the fruit. The ministry, the message, the volunteer work, the well-coordinated event, the income or business idea, or the wins. 

What you may not see, or know, is that I am constantly at war within myself. Examining every single detail.  Every action and reaction. Both internally and externally. Evaluation of every interaction with people. Going over and over again what went well (as to duplicate it next time), and agonizing over the failures. 

I can be self-defined by the result of this examination. Determined to do better next time. Constantly pushing for better, stronger, wiser; because as a three, there is so much of my worth wrapped up in how well I DO. What I accomplish. 

I can easily be fooled into thinking that this is where my value lies. This is what defines me and reflects my true character. 

It has been quite a journey for me over the past few years. A journey of learning about the grace of Jesus. Pressing into the fact that NOTHING I do will ever qualify me for relationship with Him. That He just WANTS to be in relationship with ME because he loves me, flawed and broken, weak and forgotten by the world. Those places where I feel ugly and unwanted…He is right there, full of love and forgiveness and acceptance. 

I really have been learning to lean into the two side of myself, letting my relationships with others and how I help people be where my value lies. Knowing that I am reflecting Christ in how I lean into loving others.  

BUT. 

 

Somehow along the way, I have put all of that striving to be perfect, my broken self-aggrandizing habits and traits into my relationships with others. With people. 

And for a while, the enemy had me good and fooled. 

If I was helping others, loving on people, serving them in ministry, giving them my time and coordinating and planning helpful events, then my character was healthy and my value was found. Right?

 

WRONG. 

I started to look to those people I was serving and loving to give me something back: validation. 

I started to find my character and identity in whether they felt “helped”, “loved”, “heard” and “served”. And if they weren’t happy with me for some reason or another, that meant I had more work to do.  

I needed to be more successful at fixing my brokenness. Be a better friend, mentor, leader.

I would need to love harder, serve more, and pray longer.  

Maybe, if I loved hard enough, cared deeply enough, and encouraged loudly enough, I would stop being rejected, unfriended, unappreciated and overlooked. 

The worst part is, I often forgot to ask God what He wanted, or what He thought of the ways I was being “successful” through helping.  

I have just performed my way into the lives of people, and then was shocked when they bolted at the first sign of failure or weakness in me. 

I can now see how that looks like duality. 

Like I was trying to be something I wasn’t. 

The truth is, at the heart of myself, I DO love people and want to help them. I DO find immense value in serving others. I desperately want to be used by God to do good works in the lives of anyone I can. 

BUT, how they respond to me, what they think of me, and how they treat me should never be the definition of success in my heart or in my character. 

I have learned some valuable lessons recently.

Success is when I sit face to face with Jesus and ask him, “How can I serve you today Lord?” and then say yes to whatever he asks. 

Success is when I am able to find my FULL identity in Christ. In what HE did and does, not in my own merits.  

Success is deepening my relationship with Jesus, knowing that as I receive revelation of who He is, I will get a better understanding of who I am. 

Success is really about losing myself so fully in Jesus, that I step out in confidence to love, to serve, teach, preach, write, share, lead, etc. filled with HIM, not looking to others to fill me. 

It is knowing without a doubt, that it is HIS character shining through me, my works, and my deeds and it is not of myself. Because I don’t want to be boastful or self-reliant. 

I want to be fully sold out to Jesus. Fully found in Him.  

Deeply moved by and in love with his character-not obsessed with my own. 

 

So if you can resonate with anything I have shared today, please hear this one thing. 

 

You are fully loved. Fully valued. Fully pursued. Fully cherished. Fully celebrated. 

Not because of your own character. 

But because of HIS. 

 

Taylor Madge