FRIDAY NUGGET: What You Do is Not Who You Are

I spin plates. I’m really good at it. Do you know what I mean? I have so many tasks and projects and ideas that demand my attention and focus: they require that I keep reaching toward them, giving them a little spin, to keep them from crashing to the ground.

Someone once asked me if my concern was that I wouldn’t know what to do if one or more plates crashed to the ground. But that’s not my issue. The issue for me is that I’ve often not been convinced I would know who I am, in a deep inner-life sort of way, if the plates no longer required spinning. After all, plate-spinner has become an identity.

Maybe, like me, you’re a youth worker. You passionately pour yourself out into the projects and people of youth ministry. But that’s not who you are. Do you know that, at a deep level? Do you know that you are so much more than what you do?

I’ve been on a long journey to separate “who I am” from “what I do.” Or, as a wise person said to me, to turn both “who I am” and “what I do” over to the transformational, redemptive work of God. So, if you hear a loud ripping sound coming from San Diego, you can assume it’s me. Want to join me?

7 thoughts on “FRIDAY NUGGET: What You Do is Not Who You Are”

  1. This will require a much longer conversation but I think that the relationship between being and doing is more complicated than this. If your plates stopped spinning you would be different but is it more “you” than if they keep spinning? Is there some kind of static essence of Marko that you can compare your current “you” to? Is not the transformative grace of God something dynamic, meaning that it is an ongoing action and thus some kind of “doing” of God? Just some light thoughts for a your bite size post.

  2. This is a great reflection! But my comment is for Blair Bertrand.
    Blair, (and this is an honest question) I realize you are trying to avoid a kind of static ontology that separates act and being and I know you’ve got particular theological reasons for doing it. But if what we do determines who we are, then how do we talk about grace? Doesn’t God’s grace precede our actions and tell us who we are before we have a chance to prove or disprove it? I am a beloved of God in my being, even when my doing says otherwise, right? Help me with this one. (and I realize does “require a much longer conversation”)

  3. Wes, we talk about grace as an ongoing action. God’s action to choose us as covenant partners is punctiliar in the sense that Jesus Christ is unique but ongoing in the sense that the Holy Spirit continues to live and work in our lives. We don’t prove God’s grace through our actions, God reveals God’s self as gracious through God’s actions. We then respond in correspondence. The fact that our correspondence is imperfect i.e. sinful, only means that I need God’s gracious activity in my life all that more. Grace is God’s action to us, electing us and revealing to us who we are so that we can respond, perhaps imperfectly, but nevertheless respond in act and being. As for the longer conversation, I’m coming to Pton in June. Perhaps we can hang out over beer/scotch?

  4. remind blair that he is not the beer. remind him that his relationship and response to the beer is one of correspondence.

  5. Totally depends on the beer Marko, totally depends on the beer. Wes, I’m glad that you sort out loud. I appreciate push back, sometimes I even call it friendship.

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