Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16)
As a minister, you are blessed and cursed with the intimacy of knowing people’s stories. You learn the story of someone’s life from them, and those around them. It is interesting how many times our own story is different, depending on who is telling it. Learning to share the truth of our personal story is harder than it sounds. Learning to find our true perception of ourselves is important to developing spiritual maturity.
Perception is powerful. It shapes reality and determines how we understand the experiences in our lives. Zaid K. Dahhaj, in his article, “Why Your Perception Dictates Your Results” helps us understand the need to address our perceptions and who we are in this world. Dahhaj points out, “What I focus on will dictate what I see more of.” Our perceptions are controlled by what we think about. If we think about how weak we are, then we make that a self-fulfilling prophecy. If strong, then we will have the ability to face challenges with courage.
Yet, as Dahhaj points out, “My perception is subject to error.” Just because we think we are strong; doesn’t mean we aren’t weak. Unhealthy perceptions leave us lying to ourselves and others. Our perceptions help us evaluate the present and how to work on the future. While our perceptions will never be perfect, the more we learn who we truly are, the more we will grow emotionally and spiritually.
Today, prayerfully consider how you perceive yourself. Now think about how others perceive you. Do you believe there is a great disparity in views? The more we are able to perceive ourselves honestly, the better able we are to learn and grow in emotional and spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity often requires emotional challenges. Facing ourselves as we are can be humbling, even painful, but it is the way to a deeper relationship with God.