The beginning of a new year is a natural time to hit pause and reflect on what you discovered, learned, and experienced during the previous year, as well as prayerfully consider changes and goals for the coming year. For me, this annual exercise centers around discerning how I can continue to be my best, most authentic, and truest self in the coming year. Why? Because the best gift I can give to myself, to others, and to God is to be who He made me to be.
What is my truest self? Well, let’s look at what it is not. It is not what other people think of me, or that I think they think of me. It is not what I do, my successes or failures, my need to win or look good. It is not my carnal, insecure, or egocentric self. These are attributes of my False Self, or Shadow Self, the self that is separate from God and can lead to a path of destructive thoughts and behaviors. My True Self is my deepest God given nature, identity, and inner blueprint that leads to authentic living and vocation.
I have found it helpful to use the DNA molecule as a metaphor for my True Self. Just as each of our DNA molecules is composed of two strands that coil around each other in a double helix of genetic instructions, our true self consists of two intertwined strands that compose our specific life instructions. I like to think of one of the strands as Divine and the other strand as Distinctive.
Archimedes (c. 287—c. 212 BC), a Greek philosopher and mathematician, inspired the familiar aphorism, “Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the whole earth with a lever.” Our Divine DNA is our fixed place to stand, firmly centered and rooted in the attributes of God. Our lever to move our world is the Distinctive DNA that God uniquely gives and activates in each of us.
Divine DNA – God’s Image
Genesis 1 says that God created us in His image, and that God saw what He had made and it was good. This reminds me that if I am indeed made in God’s image then I am imprinted with His divine nature, character, and attributes…..and they are good! It means I was infused from my very conception with an “Original Goodness” rather than an “Original Sinfulness” so I can start from a place of “Yes” rather than “No.” This image of God in me is absolute and unchanging and is planted deep in my nature. In fact, it is my nature. It is a pure and total gift, offered equally to all of us. We cannot increase it or decrease it – only maximize it.
Want to know what your Divine DNA looks like? Try reading and reflecting on these scriptures:
- Galatians 5:22-23 – The Fruits of the Spirit
- Matthew 5:2-11 – The Beatitudes
- 1 Corinthians 13 – The Love Chapter
- The Gospels – The Words and Deeds of Christ
Are we really capable of such divine attitudes and actions? You bet….because God hardwired us for it from creation. To gauge how true you are being to your Divine DNA ask yourself:
- Which of these biblical attitudes and actions are currently most present in my life? Which ones, both negative and positive come to mind? Name at least three.
- How do these attitudes and actions influence your personal life, your professional life, the quality of your spiritual life, and figure into who you are becoming?
- In view or who you want to become, what responses need to be changed and what responses need to be added and developed?
How are you responding to what is happening in your life? Thankful, unthankful, trusting, distrusting, honest, dishonest, denial, drawing nearer, drawing away, enduring, irritable, touchy, numb, jealous, envious, bitter, compassionate, sympathetic, apathetic, grace-filled, judgmental, etc.?
How are you responding to sufferings, to successes, to set-backs, to pressures, disappointments, to unpleasant surprises…..with humility, grandiosity, shrinking back, barging ahead, stuck, tentative, decisive, etc.?
How evident are the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, understanding and self-control in your life?
4. What one or two Divine DNA attitudes or responses to your life’s circumstances are you drawn to change or develop?
Distinctive DNA – Your Unique Image
Scripture, science, and personal experience validates we are each wonderfully and uniquely made. We are not a carbon copy, there is no one quite like us. God imprints us with a common Divine DNA but also with a unique and Distinctive DNA. These distinctives allows the church to perform as Paul suggests, as a fully integrated body, and the world to function interdependently, with each of us contributing our part and purpose to the whole of creation.
Discovering your Distinctive DNA is the other half of understanding and being your True Self. It is that for which you were created, your purpose, and what makes you truly come alive. Discovering the unique gifts you bring to your community is both your greatest opportunity and challenge, and the offering of that gift is the most you can do to love and serve the world….because, by God’s design, it is what the world needs.
There are countless tools and questionnaires to assist in discovering your Distinctive DNA but I have found the following assessments particularly insightful in my journey of discovery.
Myers-Briggs Indicator – This assessment helped me understand and appreciate the power and pitfalls of my personality and how to interact in a healthy way with other personalities.
Keirsey Temperament Sorter – This assessment helped me understand how my Guardian Temperament best contributes to society and the vocational roles for which I am most suited.
StrengthsFinders – This assessment helped me understand what energizes me and what depletes me, defined my top strengths, and taught me how to focus and deploy them.
P.L.A.C.E. – This assessment helped me understand the impact of Passion and the difference between the Equipping and Support Spiritual Gifts and how important those are to my own fulfillment and in placing people in positions of service in the church.
StandOut – This assessment clarified the unique contribution that I bring to the organization I work for. It helped me discover I am not fully alive unless I am creating and exploring regularly.
The Enneagram – This assessment helped with my self-awareness, provided another language and description for personality, and allowed me to better see myself as others do.
Beyond assessments, listen, meditate, wait, and pray for understanding of your Distinctive DNA. I’m convinced that when you learn to live and look at life through your True Self, your true God given nature and identity, everything changes. You begin to see that the life you are living is not the life that wants to live in you. If you stay faithful to focusing your development, understanding, and actions around your Divine and Distinctive DNA then the prison of your False Self begins to be dismantled and the treasure of True Self immerges. Most importantly, without prompting from others, you naturally know what actions are yours to do and what is not yours to do. We are here to give back freely what was first given to us. It takes both halves of our True Self to fulfill this calling.
Posted on January 8, 2019