I was once was invited to a dinner party. During the preparations I was rudely confronted by a woman I had never met before. We were complete strangers but that didn’t stop her from turning into an attack-dog.
At the time, I didn’t know what was fueling her hostility or what she hoped to gain by openly confronting me in front of the other dinner guests but she’d clearly gotten her vapors up. With open contempt in her voice, she got in my face and demanded, “And What Do You Do?”
You couldn't miss the obvious insinuation that she thought that I was a worthless loser when she tried to put me on the spot. I didn't know whether to say, "Excuse me", "Wow!" or "Maybe I should call my lawyer first?" But I was more embarrassed for her and her histrionics than I was for myself so I simply replied that I was retired.
Apparently “retirement” was not an acceptable answer. She obviously didn't like who I was so she wouldn't be satisfied until she had made an public example of me. She didn't care about who I really was. She only cared about what I did. She wouldn’t be satisfied until she had successfully established my worthlessness as a human being based exclusively upon what I did or did not do.
Telling her I was retired was like throwing gasoline on the fire.
“No!" she demanded, “What DO YOU DO!”.
I simply said, “Well, I do whatever I want”.
Looking back, the behind-the scenes dynamics of what was really driving that confrontation soon became clear. Still, that encounter proved to be a blessing in disguise. It gave me a deeper insight into a truth that can set us free.
On another occasion I was visiting my youngest daughter in the Bahamas after she had given birth to my grand-daughter, Keely. Near the end of the trip, I told her how proud I was of her. Her response was “But I didn’t do anything”. I said, “Rachel, it’s not about what you do but who you are.”
I have occasionally thought about these two encounters and the insight they have given me. People and society often judge our value as a human being based on what we do - by our profession, our accomplishments, our performance, our productivity, our works, our ministry, our popularity, our looks, our style, our wealth or our titles. It often happens in performance driven churches and from the expectations of peers, church leadership and fellow believers. But our worth as human beings is not measured by how many beans we count or how many good works we do.
The ultimate question that God asks of each of us is not “What do you do?” but “who are you?” God is far more concerned with the condition of our heart, our soul, the inner man, our moral compass, our character, our values and our integrity than what we do outwardly.
More than ever before, God is looking for men and women whose word is their bond, who swear to their own hurt, who esteem godly virtues, whose affections are set on things above, who speak the truth, who are faithful and who refuse to compromise truth for expediency. God is far more interested in quiet, unassuming wisdom and integrity than great exploits, ambitious egos and public exploitation – especially in these days of apostasy and compromise.
Even God identified Himself to Moses at the burning bush as, “I AM that I AM” not,” I Do as I Do”.