Definition, How do You Define Yourself?
April 3, 2009, 09:19
Filed under: Uncategorized

dictionaryHow do you define yourself?  How do others define you?  You are not going to escape being defined,  if you try we will say, “there goes X,  you know the one that avoids defining.” and you will be defined by that, by a lack of definition.  Most people do not seek to avoid definition, instead they live for it.  I am a teacher, a preacher, a truck driver, they define themselves by their profession.  I am a Libertarian,  a Democrat, a Republican,  defining by politics.  I am a Christian, a Jew, an Atheist, definition by belief system [yes atheist is a belief system].  Today a great division of definition exists where we define ourselves by our sexuality, straight, homosexual,  transgender, or bi-sexual. 

We use words to define ourselves, and the meaning of words change  over time in light of the culture.  When it was said in the 1500’s the church is an awful place, we meant it was a place filled with awe,  now the same statement has a much different meaning.  Had I lived 100 years ago I might have described myself as Gay, [usually]  ,  but that statement today would be very misleading.  I can not call myself pro-choice, even though I believe greatly in personal freedom,  because that term now means something I stand against. 

I remember in college, after my conversion to Christ,  receiving the yearly placement card I had filled out as an underclassman.  In the block that was used to define religious affiliation I had marked atheist.  Reading it now was a slap in the face that brought me to my knees once again in repentance.  The other choices were ‘Jewish’,  that would not work,   ‘Catholic’,  I did not fit in there even though I tried, ‘Protestant’,  I could think of nothing to protest, and ‘Other’.  I checked ‘Other’, and wrote in “Christian”.  I was a bit upset when it came back to me, Catholic.  I tried again, and it came back Protestant.  I hand carried it into the registrar’s office and sought satisfaction. “Surely, you have heard of this religion, there are millions of us!”  I said in my young adult indignity, “Yes we have”, was the answer, “But Christians are either’ Protestant’ or’ Catholic'”.  I still have a problem with this. 

These days the church has defined itself to a ridiculous degree.  There are Calvinists, Neo-Calvinists, Amillers, dispy’s, Fundamentalists, and more flavors then Baskin -Robbins.  I have grown to use Tim Keller’s definition to describe my faith,  Orthodox Christian,  it works well.  The danger of such description is that it may lead to, and does lead to division of the Church.  the one invisible catholic [little c] universal Church is wracked with definition to the point of absurdity. 

Defining the self is quite an industry.  We have whole sections of this at the book store,  are you a Capricorn? A type A personality?  A Seeker? A Clear?  An entrepreneur? The bumper sticker industry thrives on our desire to define ourselves, and others.  Emblems for cars define us to the world,  will you have your fish symbol with or without legs? Are you a scuba diver, or do you still  have Kerry 04 on the bumper.   Our cars define us too,  a Hummer2 vs a Subaru,  a Ford 250 diesel dually, verses a Hybrid.  Working in Real Estate taught me a lot about self definition, some seek a home, other seek a badge of achievement.

I have defined in myself many ways over the years. 

  • Reader
  • Rebel
  • Scuba diver
  • Scholarship winner
  • Judo player
  • Electrician
  • Judo coach
  • Fireman
  • Adjunct Instructor
  • Fire Chief
  • Preacher
  • Sales Man 
  • Loan Officer
  • Pastor
  • Unemployed

I have learned to define myself from a biblical world view, but that has many differing categories , some that change form time to time, some that are the most constant foundation stones in my life. 

  • Sinner saved by God’s Grace
  • Under Rower
  • Under Shepard
  • Clay on the Potter’s wheel 
  • Evangelist
  • Elder/teacher
  • Servant

Definitions are important, they enable us to see ourselves , give us focus and meaning, but they can also limit and diminish.  I want to be defined by Jesus,” Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” and again ,”Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

I want to be light, I want to be salt, and by the power of the Holy Spirit it is my desire that God will use me to season, preserve, heal, melt, give flavor, and show the Way of Christ to a lost world.  I want to meet my Savior and be defined by Him in this way, “Well done, good and faithful servant”   Is there a more glorious definition?  A servant who has been both good and Faithful?  

May we all meet at the Throne and hear those words from His Holy Lips. 

What definition or combination of definitions do you use, or would you use to describe yourself?


11 Comments so far
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I’ll be back to answer your question later but want to make one observation about you. I hope no one takes this wrong! Most pastors I have known over the years have been…hmm…shall I say “soft”. As I get to know you more, I really like seeing a “man-preacher”. That’s one descripton I would give you…..and it’s meant to be a compliment. We need more real “men” preachers!

Comment by Ike

I kinda wish I didn’t know what you mean, but I do. people have asked me how to get a new work full of men, i told them, preach like a man. women do not seem to mind. The bad part is, I stink at managing women, I am too brutal. I am praying for a helper who has a pair of kid gloves. i wear pigskin myself.

Comment by willohroots

Okay, I know this is continues the tangent, but …

I heard the same thing at college concerning pastoral visitation. Show up and talk to the men, look the men in the eye, engage the men. The women will feel included when you talk to their husbands, fathers, and sons.

The reverse isn’t true. If you’re talking to my wife, you aren’t talking to me. Engage me and I’ll show up with my family. Get my wife to commit, and she’ll go alone.

Comment by Rich

‘Declared righteous for Jesus’ sake’.

That best describes me.

(the rest is pretty boring)

Comment by theoldadam

I think I have spent way too much of my life allowing myself to take on the poor definitions people have given me. I think I’m ready to accept “loved by God”, now.

Comment by Justin

The definition of what I am is different than the definition of what I do. What I am doesn’t change.

I am a grateful disciple of our Lord, Jesus Christ, adopted daughter of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I am also a daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother. The list could go on.

My vocation is front-end manager for a major discount chain. It’s a good job, and I’ll do it until it isn’t or God leads me elsewhere.

My avocation is minister. Christian by the grace of God, Baptist by choice.

Comment by Shawn W

im tempted to define myself but i think id rather christ define me.

Comment by graceshaker

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Romans 16:20

When the angel came to a defeated man named Gideon, he greeted him with “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:12). Even in defeat, that’s who you are — a mighty man of valor.

If you are in Christ, you are more than a conqueror. You are living proof that Satan is a loser. You are humiliating him every day. Not because you are strong but especially when you are weak and Christ is your only strength, your only hope. How frustrating for Satan — to have weakened you and defeated you and brought you low, only to discover his Enemy strongly present, with you, at your point of need.

True for me too.

Did we in our own strength confide
Our striving would be losing
Were not the right Man on our side
The Man of God’s own choosing
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus it is he
Lord Sabaoth his name
From age to age the same
And he must win the battle

Comment by Ike

I am God’s “red headed adopted son.” Beyond that, my definition of myself seems to change on an almost daily basis. But I’m reminded of a verse in the Revelation. (Unfortunately, I’m too lazy to look up the exact reference.) This red-heads paraphrase goes like this: The over-comer will receive a white stone with his name engraved upon it.” I can’t wait to see what that name is. How has God defined me?

Comment by Rich

Hmmm. There are definitions I no longer use (mostly). Evangelical, Reformed, Calvinist, Protestant. Although I don’t have a state license, and it’s against the law supposedly, I call myself an architect (small “a”), because that’s the Webster’s definition.

I willingly accept the labels of Libertarian and Anarchist; what they mean to me are different than what most people have come to believe.

Comment by Steve Scott

I too no longer use those terms. Orthodox Christian seems to fit if I were pushed . tip of the hat to Tim Keller. Politically I have be come a Quitter.

Comment by willohroots

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