Tonight I heard a talk from Andy Stanley about knowing who you want to be, before you figure out who you are going to be in relationship with, and what you are going to do with your life.
He said he thought a lot about who he was going to be when he was in his late 20's. He said he figured it out by thinking about what he would want people to say about him at his funeral. He said he came up with 8 words for himself.
Honesty. (He is talking to college students - but the point to this is relevant to all)
"Do you know why honesty is important? Because honesty is the foundation of every single one of your relationships. And if you opt to be dishonest, you undermine a relationship. You cannot have a good relationship with a person if you are dishonest with them. The reason I must be honest...is because every single relationship that's important to me is at stake.
Purity - why be pure? No one else is. Nobody cares. You don't get an award for it. Everybody thinks it's kinda stupid. We don't even use that word anymore. Why be pure?
It can't be just because it makes God happy.
What's at stake?
And I read and I wondered and I thought, and I discovered something that I've been talking about since. Purity paves the way to intimacy. Do you know what's at stake in your personal purity? Not just guilt. Not just your conscious being violated. Not just a bad memory. It's way bigger than that. It's your ability to experience intimacy. Throw away your purity, and you throw away your potential for intimacy.
Generosity - why be generous? What's at stake?
Generosity ensures that the things that you own, never own you.
Generosity - I don’t mean when you have a lot, you give. I mean right now. Generosity - open handedness - ensures that the stuff you own, never owns you."
These are just 3 of the 8 words he came up with when deciding who he wanted to be. He said he figured out the words by imagining what he wanted people to say at his funeral. Then he figured out WHY these were important to him. After doing that, they ended up being the principles that he based his life on. They became the boundaries for his actions. And if he stepped outside of them, then it would be a failure. Not just 'Oh, I will just tell this white lie and nobody gets hurt.'
For him, when he thought about being dishonest, he remembered that his relationships were at stake, because he had thought about it before hand. He had purposed who he wanted to be and what was at stake if he stepped outside of that.
He says his 8 words were the 'wall,' his boundaries, that helped him become who he wanted to be. They kept him in check.
He mentioned there are a lot of pro athletes out there that have decided what they want to do in life...be a pro this or that. But they haven't thought about who they want to be. They got involved in moral failure and then it affected what they have done with their lives. He reminded us, that they figured out what they were gonna DO with their lives before they figured out WHO they were gonna be.
Andy mentioned that he knows that just figuring out the words of "who I want to be" is easy. But if you can figure out why those words are important and what's at stake if you act outside of those - then they can become the principles that you live within and help you become - really become - the leader you need to be.
And then the person - the leader that you are - will influence the relationships that you have and what you DO in your life in a powerful way.
If you haven't decided who you want to be just yet - maybe it can be something you think about this year. And don't just come up with the words - find out what's at stake if you go outside of them. I think it will be life changing.