I remember running for class treasurer in elementary school.
Classmates knew me to be good with numbers and multitasking and for being trustworthy. "You would be great for treasurer!" my young fellows chimed out. "Why not president?" I responded. "But you'd be perfect as treasurer." And sure enough, that's what I did-- I ran for class treasurer, the whole time wanting to be president. I knew I was qualified to be president, but allowed the thoughts of others to keep me in a certain space. Even though it was not malicious, I let the preconceptions of others allow me to confine myself. And eventually I told myself I was okay with it. I mean, I was good at it, I liked it enough, people knew I did good work. Not so bad, right?
I ran unopposed. My one contender dropped out of the race, because she knew "everybody was gonna vote for me anyway."
So, to me, treasurer was twice safe.
Recognizing early on this comfortable place, I ran for class treasurer in middle school. Then high school. Then look up and I was an accounting major in college. Look up and I’m working for an insurance company leading a team of 7 accountants. Then I celebrate a 3-year anniversary.
Sounds great, right? Well, for someone else maybe. Truth is I never wanted to be an accountant, just like I never wanted to be class treasurer. I saw at age 9, treasurer was safe for me. People knew I was good at math and trusted me. And that’s what I allowed to be projected onto me. I accepted the space people wanted for me, even though I wanted more.
Fast forward twenty years. How much has changed? Are we disallowing ourselves greatness out of comfort? Safety? Fear? Outside pressures? These are questions we can all ask ourselves. Why do we allow others’ preconceptions and projections to determine our station in life?
Years ago, we would sing a song called, “Whose Report Will You Believe?” The song was a lively call-and-response where the lead singer would expressively belt an ongoing list of seeming challenges, trying circumstances, and situations where faith was the singular pillar of wherewithal and, eventually, redemption. The lead would sing about illness and troubled loved ones and being “down to your last dime”—even some outwardly impossible situations. But before the lead could tell too much of the trials of life, the chorus would retort, “We shall believe the report of the Lord.”
The exuberant testimonies could go on for 10, 15, 20 minutes; the congregation and singers responding in various expressions of faith and conviction. I too remember, even as a small boy, singing the chorus until I believed it. I saw how much people believed in what was favorable to them; they believed to tears. Some would run; some would leap; some would even collapse under the consuming euphoria of faith. I too believed that faith could heal diseases and sustain those in need.
I look at myself now. I look at how I have allowed my faith to wane. I ask myself “do I still believe faith can heal cancer, open jail cells, and restore minds?” And my immediate response is a resounding “yes!” But then I ask myself how can I believe a change in thinking can counter the law even science, yet I do not believe enough that I can have the desires of my heart. This same sickness-healing, mind-restoring, providence-providing, life-changing faith we so adamantly latch onto is the same faith that will supply us what we need to be our best selves and-- what’s more—fulfillment.
I realize that over the years, I don't hate accounting at all. My strengths in management and administration are actually two of my most prized skills. What I grew to hate was my own consternation with myself-- the dismay of allowing others to tell me who I was, and just how comfortable I got in that place.
Understand that there is much more to who you are than being comfortable in a place that is not aligned with your fullest potential. Have you made yourself comfortable in the class treasurer’s seat when you truly know you should be president? No matter what forces inside or out of you say, my question is whose report will you believe?