By Christy Kirtlan
Last year, I participated in a monthly luncheon provided by my employer. It is a community initiative for women designed to engage and encourage each other towards finding their passion and purpose. This initiative, called “Built to Live,” is not exactly faith based, but to me it was.
In order to find our true identity, worldview, passion and purpose the faith question must be asked and honestly answered. The vision for Built To Live is “to awaken, challenge and transform every participant to be all she has been created to be. The results of living an authentic life of significance create lasting personal, spiritual, and community impact for generations to come.”
Each meeting offers challenges to go deeper into who you are, not what you do (or to whom you are married!). This was such a great experience of personal growth for me! Most significant for me, was when we were challenged to determine our true identity – who we are apart from our roles in life, evaluate our strengths through a “StrengthsFinder” test, and find three verbs that describe us when we are at our best. Finally, we were challenged to ask a few of our loved ones these questions:
What am I good at?
What should I do less of?
What energizes me?
What drains me?
When am I at my best?
My loved ones, though surprised at the questions, provided their feedback and all surmised that I am good at helping people but should do less of it! Loving my family and spending time with them energizes me, as well as teaching others to know and love Jesus. Conflict drains me (doesn’t it do that to everyone?) and I am at my best and strongest coaching others in their walk with Jesus. They all agreed that what I need to do more of is to take care of ME. To have the energy to help others, I must invest in myself physically, emotionally and spiritually.
My greatest takeaway from these exercises is realizing that my greatest strengths can also produce weaknesses if not done properly or without God’s guidance. If I forge ahead and tell someone that I’d be happy to lead a Bible study (makes me happy) but fail to inquire of God about it first, or our family schedules, then I’ve created an opportunity for an energy drain.
Saying yes to something good can still cause stress and strain in our lives, and even keep us from doing something GREAT! This has helped me to think through my options and commitments more clearly, seek direction from God for His plan for my time, and be more intentional about things to which I should say no.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
Guarding our hearts is more than just watching what goes in and out of our hearts and minds. It includes protecting our time, our personal growth and living our lives with intention. God has defined who we are; we cannot let our world change that definition. God has created us to love others in HIS way, not ours. He has indeed built us to live!