Although probably apocryphal, there’s an old story about a flight delayed with a long line of disgruntled passengers waiting to be rebooked by a single gate attendant.
Impatiently, a business tycoon pushes his way to the front of the line demanding to be rebooked immediately. The agent smiled sweetly and assured him she was doing her best, but he would have to wait in line like everyone else.
After several failed attempts to get his way, the man pounded the desk and bellowed, “Do you have any idea who I am?”
Without saying a word, the agent picked up her mic and announced to the entire airport, “Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention? We have a passenger at gate 14 who doesn’t know who he is. If anyone can identify him please come to gate 14 immediately.”
It’s important to know who we are. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle is credited with saying, “Know thyself. For this is the beginning of wisdom.” Socrates echoed similar advice.
In his book, “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth,” John Maxwell writes “You must know yourself to grow yourself.” He calls it the “law of awareness.” While Maxwell’s books addresses leadership development and personal growth as it pertains to secular pursuits, the principle has a valid spiritual application.
The apostle Paul offers this challenge. “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Cor. 13:5).
Awareness and self-examination are necessary if we desire spiritual growth. This, of course, calls for us to look at ourselves openly, honestly and candidly by looking into the mirror of God’s Word (Jas. 1:22-25). We need to see ourselves as God sees us based on His standard. At times, this may be uncomfortable, or downright painful. But growth demands it.
James Russell Lowell once wrote, “No one can produce great things who is not throughly sincere in dealing with himself.” The problem is we may deceive ourselves either into thinking we’re better than we really are, or that we have no value, no worth, and no ability to improve.
The wise man of proverbs connected wisdom and knowledge with a fear of the Lord, as the beginning point of a life of meaning and significance. When we seek God’s counsel, and commit to following His Word, then we can properly assess who we are.
What are some things you need to know in order to grow?
♦You need to know God’s purpose and plan for your life (Eph. 3:10-11). His purpose found in Christ. And is realized as we seek to be conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29), instead of allowing the world to squeeze us into its mold (Rom. 12:1-2).
♦You need to know your gifts, talents and abilities (Rom. 12:3-8). Most of us are not 5 talent people. Don’t waste your time and expend your energy trying to engage in activities beyond your ability. Accept it if you’re the 2 talent or 1 talent person.
♦You need to ask yourself “Are my motives pure?” “Are my reasons righteous?” “Are my intentions honorable?”
♦You need to know your level of progress. Are you growing stronger? Are you succeeding or failing in God’s purpose? Is your mission, ministry and message producing growth in yourself and in other people?
The prophet’s warning to ancient Israel is appropriate for us today. Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! (Hag. 1:5).
Or as Paul put it in Galatians 6:4-6 “But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.”
Finally, knowing who we are will keep us humble, allow us to be teachable, and motivate us to greater growth.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman