Whether rightly or wrongly, this along with many other similar factors was one of bigger factors in my decision to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although I knew that every worthy Mormon young man should serve a mission, I also knew that it was a personal decision between the Lord and me. I knew that if I was going to be a successful missionary for the LDS Church, the Lord was going to have to confirm to me that it was the right thing for me to do. But I also knew that it would give me an immense sense of worth.
It would be something that I could own, something that the Lord and I would work on together. In my mind, the personal growth I had on my mission would give me a sense of worth that nothing I had accomplished up to that point ever had, because it was mine — mine and the Lord’s. No one could give credit to my parents or to luck or to outside influences or to anything other than my own hard work and obedience as well as the Lord’s grace.
Little did I know that the relationship I would gain on my mission would be the only thing that could give me any amount of redeeming worth. Had I not had the success I thought I should have and had I not gained a secure relationship with my Savior, my soul would have been shaken.
When we put our trust in and base our identity on anything other than our relationship with God, we risk complete personal and spiritual destruction.
Our need for self-worth is so basic and so powerful that we will find anything on which to base our identity. I would be lying if I said that there weren’t times in my life when I based my identity on the rise or success of my favorite sports teams. Many have done likewise with their sports teams. With the rise and fall of these teams, our self-worth does likewise.
This is sad, but common. However, it is far more common for us to place our worth in the hands of our employers or sheer luck. When we are promoted or climb the corporate ladder our self-worth rises. This is often outside of our control, however, and when things don’t go as planned or hoped, it shakes us so badly that is it can destroy us.
We even look for human beings to define us. We worship celebrities, mentors and sometimes even church leaders. Although it is good to have mentors who we can model our lives after, the Lord is the only model who can bring us salvation.
However, when we rely on another person more than God, we run the risk of that person not living up to our expectations of them. Does that mean they are not worthy to be our friend, family member, or spouse? Of course not. But whether our expectations are too high or our friends or family members are too human, our worth cannot be placed in the hands of other human beings, as close to them as we may be.
In his book, Keller quotes the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, who said that “no human relationship can bear (this) burden of godhood If your partner is ‘All’ then any shortcomings in him (or her) becomes a major threat to you ”
Nothing can bear that burden. No sports team, no career (no matter how amazing), no accomplishment, no relationship can replace God in our lives. This is surely part of the burden placed upon the Savior as part of the Atonement.
We are all building our identity on something. That is the power of the human urge for worth and to know that our existence is not for nothing. If our identity is based on anything other than God, we are destined for spiritual destruction.
As Keller concludes, “Jesus is the only Lord who, if you receive him, will fulfill you completely, and, if you fail him, will forgive you eternally.”
I challenge you to look in your life for what defines you. Is it your job? Your career? Your circle of friends? Your favorite football team? Your favorite movie star? Your biggest crush?
In other words, where do you look for the Savior and the salvation only he offers? I promise you that where you will find the Savior is the same place his parents found him — about his father’s work. That’s where he is. So if you want to find him, that’s where you must be.
“For how knoweth a man the Master whom He has not served?” (Mosiah 5:13).
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