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At Your Limit

I watched an interview with TD Jakes the other day and during the interview the conversation turned briefly to the topic of being limited by our titles.  In other words limitations based on how we identify ourselves.  It was a great point and one I felt like sharing in more detail.

How we identify ourselves and more specifically how we identify ourselves around our careers can limit us, or drive us.

For instance college students go to school for a specific degree in a specific field.  If you ask them what they want to do when they graduate, many times they will answer with a specific job title.  I want to be a teacher, or I want to be a physical therapist, or I want to be a lawyer, doctor, or professor (member of the U.M.C., Bob Segar fans, you’re welcome).   But those titles are limited in their ability to describe every attribute that we may possess.

Sometimes what we do is much more than our titles.  For instance, I don’t think many people would argue that a nurse does much more than just provide physical care for patients.  Nurses often provide comfort,  empathy, compassion, counsel, humor, patience, support, and those are just a few of the “other” skills they must possess to do their jobs effectively.  In fact it is not what they do, it is who they are.

There is a new buzz phrase out their called “EQ”.  It stands for Emotional Intelligence.  It is now suggested that having a high EQ is more important than having a high IQ in attaining success in life.  Why?  Because the ability to relate to, understand, empathize with and care for others is more influential than being smart.   (APA Reference, Michael Akers & Grover Porter. (2016). What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)? Psych Central.  Retrieved November 3, 2017, from psychcentral.com)

The point is we wrap up all of our attributes into a title, and we think we can’t do anything else because that’s who we are.  We feel stuck.  However we can be a title and have attributes that don’t apply to that title as well. We can hold many titles, which ironically we’ve given the titles entrepreneur, agent, industrialist, business person, financier, etc.   There are some people who choose a profession but their success is found in their hobby.  They sometimes leave the profession and find they have to redefine who they are and who people think they are because the hobby doesn’t hold the same abilities, knowledge base, and prestige.

Let me ask you this, who was Jesus?

Think about that.  Surely most of us think of him as a man who impacted religion and the world through his teaching and miracles.  At the very least he is known to have been a Prophet.  However, as TD Jakes cleverly pointed out Jesus was a carpenter.  “He who handled wood, ended up nailed to a tree.”  Oh that’s good.  Don’t let your job crucify your purpose.  If you think about it, we don’t know if he was any good at being a carpenter.  To my knowledge there was no Yahweh Home Furnishing line.  All kidding aside, imagine if he had limited himself to only building furniture.

We can be many other things besides our current career title.   We can be an author, a small business owner, a carpenter, an entertainer, and a multitude of “other” skills.    Often times we rule out those other options because we think, I can’t do that.  I’m a teacher.  I don’t know how to run a business.  I don’t know how to be an author.  I don’t have a degree in “blank”.  Sometimes we stay doing what we’re doing because we feel that someone else expects it of us.  Sometimes we’re afraid to give up a successful career for a questionable future.  We stay stuck.  We lose our sense of purpose and when we don’t feel purposeful we get ourselves into all kinds of binds.  We start to look for fulfillment in other areas.  That’s a whole other blog.  Sometimes we feel we can’t follow our dreams because we have to provide for our family,  our immediate needs and we don’t have the resources to do both.  This was expressed best in the words of Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, “Dammit Jim, I’m a Doctor not a….”

Now don’t get me wrong, those of you who want to run out and quit your job to be a professional beach connoisseur, you still have to work.  In fact I would argue that following your dreams requires a lot more work and sacrifice than most people are actually willing to make.   However if you have a dream that God has placed in your heart, it doesn’t mean you can’t start making efforts right where you are with the resources you already have.

Look for the opportunities you have instead of the reasons you can’t.

Proverbs 29:18 in the KJV reads, Where there is no vision, the people shall perish:  but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

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