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True Self/False Self

This week I have been reading David Benner's book, The Gift of Being Yourself and while I have read this book before for a class in seminary, it is touching me again. The tempation is ever present to find myself struggling to secure myself in the good opinion of others, in what I do and in what I have. That struggle if filled with anxiety and self-defensiveness.

I have been wondering often about how serving where one's joy is and serving the world connects. Serving in joy seems so self-centered because it is about one's own joy. But Benner connects the dots for me in that serving in my joy is how I am uniquely wired to face the world with the face of God. So the vocation and the joy go together.

All of that has implications. I also viewed "fun theory" a cute little video going around on facebook and noted that people are more apt to do what is good for them if it is fun. And the authors create a stairway that plays music like a piano to encourage people to take the stairs. Could it be that God also wired humans to reflect his glory in a way that also brings joy.

But I also wonder if there are times in one's life in which one must find oneself choosing a course of action that in the moment brings no joy. It is a scarificial choice that is painful and doesn't feel good but perhaps will bring a greater good in the future. I don't think it is possible to continue in that forever or one's spirit may die, but one can do it at critical points.

It seems that Jesus was a man full of joy engaging with humanity and creatively sharing the good news. However, he embarked on a course of action in which he did not really feel much joy in his trial, crucifixion and death. He did it because of the joy set before him... he did not have it in the present but knew his death would bring greater joy to the world.

I agree with Benner for most of life but there are times and moments that bring little joy but promise greater joy in the future.


  1. So true but because we live in a culture that glorifies doing that which makes one happy, it can be challenging to choose something which doesn't do that. Now I realize your article spoke of joy, but I'm convinced many people confuse happiness and joy and so if something's not making them happy, sticking with it is not a popular choice. We need to transform our thinking on joy and serving of Christ realizing that not all days, weeks, months or God forbid even years will be joyful ones. But I'm convinced that the joy comes in the actual serving Christ and the eternal consequences versus my temporal feelings gained from a particular task. We probably also need a revelation on what it means to be a bondservant. These are things we don't talk and teach much about in our churches anymore and I'm convinced that makes it easier especially for young people to walk away when they see us dragging around beaten and bruised with little evidence of joy. Who would want to be part of anything like that?


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