Many of us have very busy lives. For some of us it is the sheer demand of our careers that prevents us from being someone other than a “worker”. The time and thought that must be put into a successful work day leaves us exhausted. We live our lives preparing for work, working, and resting after work. I can attest to this. My first semester as a professor was very demanding. (I told Nicole that my body never gave up, though. I was surprised that I did not get one cold or that my immune system was not susceptible to the flu lurking among the students in my classes.)
During the semester, I would reflect about the woman I wanted to be, but recognized that I did not have time to design her.
Given spans of time to rest and reflect over semester break, I found myself in deeper reflection about who I wanted to be. The Lord helped me to realize that an identity shift was in order. And, the urgency of this identity shift was also apparent. He allowed me to discover that I am a person before I am a professor, and I am Christ follower above all.
You might say that I have it easy because I have the ability to engage in this reflection as someone who has achieved “something” (I have my Ph.D. in Sociology). I have not arrived, and I have so much more to strive for professionally. But, at the same time, I realize that the pleasure of this life will be lost in worry and anxiety about the next promotion. I will strive (and in Jesus name) become a tenured professor, but I will not lose myself and Christ’s purpose for my life in the process. Now is the time to decide who you are going to be and putting it off until the future is not a profitable resolution. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)
I have desires for my inner woman. On the final day of 2013, I wrote in my journal:
I take much pride in my career accomplishments, but in 2014 I would rather be known by my integrity. People now say, “She is the woman who is a professor.” I am known by my career accomplishments. I would rather that people say, “She’s the one who encouraged me with kind words, she’s the one who helped me, she is a woman of her word, and she’s the one I can trust
I feel hopeful going forward that the four weeks spent reflecting, reordering my priorities and identities, and outlining the plan of attack was not futile. He is going to honor it! It is with purpose that I will approach all dimensions of my person and my life. God is first, second is my family, and third is my career. For this new order to work, I have to be in relationship with Christ. I must engage in continual prayer, fasting, praise, and worship, and give of my time, finances, talent, and body.
Paul says, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him (Romans 12: 1).
I must set aside time to listen to what God is saying to me about me. To reflect Christ in my work place, I must have fellowship with Him in the ways described in the previous sentences.
What I did over break to start the identity shift: prayed daily, read my Bible, wrote reflections in my journal, and praise and worship was a wonderful hobby. I learned something new (to play the keyboard), exercised regularly, volunteered in my community, started couponing, and read fiction and non-fiction novels and books about Christian living. Some of the items on this list are pastimes that I would say I wanted to do, but never really had the time. Matthew 6, the entire chapter, is informative. However, it all boils down to Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
I pray to continue along this path, and I have faith in God to make me more efficient and productive in my working hours so that after work I can serve Him. He is going to get me away from my laptop and pull my nose out of the sociology book so that I can start living my life in Christ and for Christ.
- Who is the woman/man that God is calling you to be?
- What are the practical steps that you can take to reorder your priorities (putting God first, family second, and career third)?
- What are some hobbies/characteristics that you would like to begin developing but that you feel like you do not have time to begin?
- Are you praying, worshiping and praising, and giving daily? If no (and even if yes), how can you expand and go deeper into God, so that your relationship develops even more?
- What is God saying to you about the relationship between your work life and your personal life, and your walk with God?
- What are your hobbies and how are they related to the woman/man that God has constructed you to be?
Deidre Lynn has been walking with God since 2007. She lives in Clarksville, TN and works as an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Murray State University.