You are Defined by Your Commitments
Our attempts to define ourselves are an exercise in discovering the meaning of our lives. Some of us are so wrapped up in our careers that our identities are defined by our job titles. Others find in their possessions a definition of who they are. Defining our identity reveals the path we have taken to self-fulfilment and contentment.
If we sense that our careers will bring us ultimate contentment, we will live for our jobs. Who are we will be defined by our job positions and our worth weighed by our remuneration. Consequently, when we retire, we lose our self-esteem and our meaning in life. In an economic downturn, we discover to our horror that the company we have given our lives to serve, rewards loyalty by cutting our jobs to save the bottom line. After sacrificing accumulated family time for our careers, we find that the leaders of our organization are not there for us when we are in deepest need. We feel betrayed and sense that life is meaningless.
Finding our purpose in life is the flip side of discovering our place in God's world. In the biblical narrative, when God's people were in crisis, Mordecai pointed to Esther's privileges as Queen and suggested that it could well be that you have come to royal position for such a time as this. The favor Esther always found from strategically positioned people, the benefits she received, and the privileges she enjoyed, prepared her for a royal role in Divine agenda. Esther found her existenial raison d'etre in a unique opportunity to serve her people. In fulfilling her role, she realized her potential and found contentment.
To find contentment, then, we need to ask, "For what has God prepared me?" We look at the successes we have enjoyed, the failures we have suffered, and the hardships we have endured. We match our unique endowments and allotments in life with the challenges of the times. A seamless fitting of the two may constitute a Divine calling, the fulfillment of which can bring unparalleled ecstasy and contentment.
Responding to Divine calling requires taking risks. When making a decision at life's intersection, we do not always know the outcome. esther knew that doing what she was uniquely positioned to do did not guarantee the results she desired. But, she made a commitment at the risk of her life, declaring, If I perish, I perish. Commitments without risks are cheap. Commitments without a price are shallow.
We prepare for the future from young. We urge our children to do well in school so they can be prepared for the future. We discipline ourselves in saving for a "rainy day". But very few of us know what we have been preparing for. We are so fearful of losing everything that we do not take risks. Consequently, we stay behind safe boundaries, living lives of boring monotony.
However, if we want to lead fulfilled lives, we have to pour ourselves into a cause that is greater than and beyond ourselves. We need something that will mean everything to us. We will be consumed by it, and it will be a priority on our schedules.
So if we desire to know who we are, we will have to look to our commitments. We are defined by our commitments. Our commitments reveal our allegiance, our standards and our methods. Our commitments force us into consistency. When I am true to who I am, I am free to take risks to fulfill the purpose of my life, and consequently, I am able to enjoy contentment and be at peace with God and myself.
Strangely enough, we are wired for commitments. Our natural endowments, our inclinations, our experiences, our gifting, our interests and our abilities are the ingredients that shape us for specific commitments that will glorify God, fulfill Kingdom agenda and bring contentment to our lives. When we discover that we have been prepared for such a time as this, we can stake everything we have in a committed declaration, If I perish, I perish!
**********************letter 35 (15. 9. 2002)********************
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