“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15
My middle guy Mason is Mr. Personality plus! At just nine-years-old, he’s the life of the party and can work a room like nobody’s business. The more attention he gets, the more entertaining he is.
However, the flip side of being such a people pleaser is he sometimes allows people’s opinions to matter too much. I don’t want that for him. I don’t want him to let feedback from others define him.
Consequently, I struggle with how much to praise him, how much to build him up. I’m his mom. I should be his #1 cheerleader. Yet I want his self-esteem to be rooted within him, not established by me, or the outside world.
My friend Amy recently gave me great advice. She suggested that when he gives me his report card, plays in a baseball game, or performs in a piano recital and wants my praise, I should ask him, “How do you think you did?” Turning the mirror back on him puts him in charge of verbalizing his success, his accomplishments. More importantly, it has him assessing his own performance, and owning the outcome. In this world where he’s going to have critical teachers and employers, he needs to start determining for himself when he’s done a good job, and when he hasn’t. If he can do that for himself, others’ opinions won’t make or break him.
In Melannie Svoboda’s Traits of A Healthy Spirituality, she points out that the first thing we need to do to keep our spiritual lives healthy is to routinely ask ourselves, “How am I doing spiritually?” No one else but us can answer that question. Our relationship with God is personal and unique, and can’t be compared to anyone else’s.
Jesus knew the power of questioning. When He asked Peter, “Who do you say I am?” Peter was forced to make up his own mind, define for himself who Jesus was, and then own the answer. Being the one to proclaim Jesus the Messiah made Peter more invested than ever in this truth.
Likewise, it is through us questioning how our spiritual lives are that we are forced to assess where we are in our relationship with God. If we determine that we feel distant, we have to own our part in that answer. Furthermore, being the ones to acknowledge this hopefully inspires us to make the changes to bridge that distance.
My friend Meagan was recently talking about Powerschool. Powerschool is a tool we parents use to get up-to-the-minute grades for our kids. We can decide if we want weekly, or even daily updates sent to our iphones or email. We no longer have to question how our kids are doing academically. We have those grades at our fingertips, constantly.
The questions Meagan pondered were: What were her up-to-the-minute grades from God? How did He think she was doing?
I loved this line of questioning. It made me ask myself the same things. Turning the mirror back on myself, I can see there is a lot of room for improvement. However, my motivation for now wanting to step it up in my spiritual life is not about a daily report card from God. That perspective makes me feel judged, defensive, and lacking. Instead, my motivation comes from recognizing what a close and constant relationship with God can look and feel like: A life filled with so much wisdom and serenity that no matter what struggles or hardships come my way, I can face them with deep faith and grace. Without a doubt, that’s the life I dream to live, and will continue to strive for.
How about you? How do you think you’re doing?
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