This is the second part of a series tiled “The Effect of You: Seeing the Real You.”

“Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’” Jeremiah 1:4 ESV

In my experience from my social experiment, I discovered a great deal of “data” as to what many think of me. I asked for the good/bad/ugly about myself because I wanted to see the real full vision of me to those who know me. I did this because in my line of service to God; not only am I a pastor but I also work in the mental health field. I do my utmost best to help heal, restore and reunify the families I am humbled and honored to work with. As shared in part one of the series; I am my worst judge of myself. However, before I can gain a healthy vision of myself; I must see what God sees me as.

Using the passage above, I realize that not only did God form me, he knew me in the womb. And not only this, he had a plan for my life! Jeremiah’s calling was to be a prophet. My calling is to be a pastor/shepherd and counselor.

You, my dear friend, were also known in the womb and have a special calling on your life! It may not be in the organized ministry field as a pastor or such. It could be as a role model for others, showing grace and mercy to those who need it most, to work in a school and loving children who come from broken homes, to coach a team with respect and integrity and showing real sportsmanship to your team, to helping someone connect with community resources in their town and so on. It doesn’t matter what you do; its that you do it and do it well and to the glory of God.

I shared that I would address different aspects of my findings. Here they are:

• How many lives my life has affected — This number cannot be adequately defined; simply because I’m not done yet and also there are many more people whom God has allowed me to reach and touch that I am fully unaware of. This I do know: I reached a great deal more than I ever anticipated. As you look at your life, I am very sure that you have reached a great deal more than what you could ever imagine! Are you willing to take a real look at yourself and your impact on the world around you?

• My opinion of myself versus the opinion of others about myself — As I shared with you earlier, I know that I can be sometimes too hard on myself and think a lot less of myself compared to those who know me and value me. Others view me as: “loving, given friend,” “godly,” “shepherd,” “calming,” “truly accepting,” “the Joker (this pertains to the ornery side of me),” “pastor,” and a great deal more. And with all the comments that were presented to me, I can agree with them all; and it terrifies me. As I look at my flaws and my failures; these people, who know each and every one of my failures, still sees what God is doing in me and through me and with me. Everyone fails at some point; everyone gets up and continues on. How do you view yourself in comparison is what others see in you?

• Being able to identify my rational thought processes which I personally have about myself and how that contradicts what others believe me to be — I admit at times that it becomes irrational because I want to hurt as much (if not more) than those whom I have affected. This isn’t right, but it is what happens. I am learning to stop focusing on my failures and looking more towards my restoration and healing. This way, I am able to bring the same to others. Where do you struggle? What changes do you need help with?

• Asking myself: “Is it possible for me to live up to the expectations which I perceive that others have of me; including God?” — This is complicated to answer because there are different thoughts about this: The first question is to ask yourself: Are the expectations realistic for myself? I ask this because sometimes we attempt to be “the perfect Christian/person and realistically; there was only One: Jesus Christ who could and should claim this. Everyone else; myself included, have failed and will fail again. This being said; if I feel that God is calling me to do/believe/trust or whatever; I want my expectations to be in line with that of God: to believe Him and His ability for me to become that which He has called me to be. As for the expectations of others: although they are VERY important to me; I will never live up to their expectations: there are too many to try to accommodate and there is only one of me.

• Is it possible for me to truly believe the perceptions that others have of me? — If you are hearing others say these things about you, you already are. Even if you can’t see this in yourself, God is revealing this to others. By doing this, God empowers others to be there for you as you need the uplifting and support, the mercy you imparted, the grace you need to stand and move on. They will mirror what they have seen in you and through you.

You are a far greater influence that you believe. You make a difference for God and others; even if you don’t believe in God. Have faith in yourself and your worth! If you are struggling with doubts and uncertainties; ask God to show you your worth. Ask others for confirmation. I am reminded at the end of the movie Saving Private Ryan, Ryan is standing in front of the grave of one of the men who gave their lives to save him; asking his wife to “Tell me that I have lived a good life; tell me that my life mattered.” Your life does matter: to God, to others and to me. Be blessed and be the blessing you are called to be.

The Rev. John Boyanowski serves at Pleasant Lake United Methodist Church.

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