Many of us have been told what we should want all our lives. We're told what we should and shouldn't do, what we should play, what sport, what job, which person to date, what to read, watch and participate in.
Much of this telling people what they want comes from a place of concern and care. People don't usually set out to try and control or manipulate others. But unfortunately, after a while, when we're told too often what we want or should do, we can become compliant, losing the ability to use our faith or choose for ourselves. Or we do almost anything, even foolhardy things, to avoid being told what it is we want or should be doing.
"When someone tries to control us, it teaches us new ways to be dumb because it reminds us of old ways we've been manipulated before". – Bob Goff.
When we feel like people are telling us what to be or do, it can push us away from the right decisions simply because we don't want someone else telling us.
Jesus, however, teaches us a better way. He reminds and tells us who we are; even when we mess up like the prodigal son, he makes way for us to run back to him with no shame. (Luke 15:11-32 NLT)
It's Him that speaks when we can't see who we are and what's deposited inside us. He is the one who calls those things that are not yet visible in us as though they are. He told Moses he was a leader when we struggled to put two words together, and Moses listened and became a great leader. He told Noah he was a sailor, and he built a boat and became one. He told Esther she was a queen, and she was chosen and became not only a queen but a deliverer of her people.
"Jesus doesn't give us a whole lot of directions and rules, intended to manipulate our behaviour and control our conduct. Instead, he has beautiful hopes for us and has told us what they are. But he doesn't frown at us when we aren't ready to have those same hopes for ourselves." - B. Goff
Even when we struggle to see ourselves as He does, Jesus continues to love and walk alongside us, continually encouraging, believing in us and allowing us space to figure it out. He especially wants us to know we are His.
It's this same grace He longs for us to extend to others as they figure it out, too, because telling people what they want only turns us into law enforcers and people who pass judgment and opinions. Our kids and those who look up to and listen to what we have to say will often comply, but it will only last until someone else comes along and gives them another direction or way out.
Instead, Jesus' example is to spend time telling the people in our world who they are becoming. Tell them of their potential, gifts, talents and what we admire in them. Then, let them find their way to all the amazing things God has planned for their lives without us.
Today who does Jesus say you are? Now focus on what He says, rather than coming under the pressure of what the world says you should want or be. Then show the same grace to everyone else in your life too.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for being the one who tells me who I am and all that I am capable of becoming. Please help me see myself as you do and then remind me to extend that same grace and belief to others. In Jesus name Amen.