I was just over twenty and thought I had life figured out. Sitting in a church member’s home, I got into a discussion about wages. I felt pretty bold at this moment because I had just started my own roofing business and was profiting an average of $40 per hour. In a small-man attempt to cut down another brother who had just started working in a department store, I said, “I had to go outside to start making real money.” Lord, forgive me.
Identity by income
An older gentleman was listening to that conversation. When he heard my comment, he responded, “I used to do your line of work, Daniel. I had to go inside to start making real money.”
I knew he had worked in a factory, so I inwardly sneered and thought, He has no idea how much money I am making.
Later, my curiosity got the best of me. I had to know what this retired man had made for a living wage. He told me I did not want to know. I told him to tell me anyway. He looked me in the eye with an I-got-you smile and said, “One hundred and fifty dollars an hour—all expenses paid.” He had been plant manager for a high-dollar pharmaceutical company. He just looked at me and laughed.
I deflated. My pride had a gaping hole. My income looked like pennies compared to his presidential wage. This information would not have hurt my ego, however, if it had a stronger foundation. Rather than living by covetousness, I should have been living by calling. Instead of self-promotion, I should have sought first the kingdom.
Identity by calling
Now the ladies Bible studies get all excited and bubbly when a sister says, “I know who I am; I am a child of the King.” I guess that should get me excited, too. However, I have found men need to know more than just that they belong. We need to know we are doing our part.
Our self-confidence does not come from a paycheck. Nor does it come just by belonging. We build our confidence in God when we know what He wants us to do and we do it. Adam’s confidence would have been in doing his job of guarding and propagating Eden. Abel’s self-confidence may have driven Cain insane with rage when he tried to compare success against success. Although we will not all drive an Escalade or BMW, we all can find fulfillment in our daily commitment to being the man God called us to be as a father, a husband, a prayer warrior, a Bible teacher, and more.
If God called you to start a church in Wyoming and only three people show up, then you keep doing what God said and stop worrying about having the throngs of people they have in a big-city church. Sure we need to push for our best, but we must not compare ourselves to others (II Corinthians 10:12).
Insecurity and inferiority
If you struggle with an inferiority complex, you probably have not found your calling. Rather than seeking approval from other men, “set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). Live to please Jesus and you will not have to put others down to feel good about yourself.