Sep 2, 2006

Who You Are

I found the following helpful:

The power of who you are by John Fischer

I sat next to a Jewish woman once at a PTA function and when she found out I was a Christian, she had a question all ready for me. “Maybe you can explain this,” she said. “A young man came to my door recently. He was a college student painting houses. My house needed painting so I took his card. When I asked him about the fish symbol I noticed on the card, he smiled and said, ‘Oh, I’m a Christian painter!’ Now what do you suppose he meant by that?” I laughed and told her I really didn’t know except that he was a Christian who was trying to make some money painting houses. When it comes to our place in the world, it’s much better to be a Christian than to be a Christian something-or-other. In other words, stay away from using “Christian” as an adjective. No one knows what a Christian painter is anyway. Even Christians don’t know; we just think we do because we use these terms all the time. I asked the woman how she responded to his comment about being a Christian painter and she said, “Oh, I just asked him if he could paint!” I like this lady. It’s really pretty simple isn’t it? It makes no difference to her if he was a Christian painter or a Muslim painter or a Buddhist painter … she only wanted to know if he could paint her house. There’s a lesson here. When it comes to our work in the world, our work comes first. The young painter, as well-meaning and as passionate about Christ as I’m sure he was, got his witness too far out in front of him. His witness is to do a good job as a Christian. How we do our job is not a means to a witness, it is our witness. In the marketplace, no one cares if you are a Christian. They just want to know: Can you paint? Can you compute? Can you run a company? Can you market this product? Can you manage this store? Can you operate this cash register and smile at all my customers? Once you prove yourself as having integrity and value to your employer, then the fact that you are a Christian will mean something. People have so many religious preconceptions today. To announce your allegiance up front means you will have to fight through all those preconceptions just to be heard; and even then, the stereotype is hard to shake. If you establish credibility on other levels first, you can clear the deck of all that other stuff. Then you might have a better chance of getting someone to consider what it really means to be a Christian.

In the end, what you claim to be is nothing compared to who you are.

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