Who am I? First, some positives…
Passionate. I don’t do very many things half way. I’m an all-in kind of person. This means I go overboard on things from time to time. Passionate people do that. Measured people have a different kind of strength, but it’s more about restraint. Passionate people aren’t about restraint, but expression. I’m more concerned about what I put into something than what I leave out. This makes me a loyal friend.
Creative. My passion bleeds into my creativity. I think my favorite thing about myself is my creative mind. I create board games and new shelving configurations in my kids’ rooms. I paint, draw, write, and I dream in technicolor. I hate being handed a script, and don’t like being told what to do. I want to make, to choose, to try something new, to innovate. This means I’m also a risk-taker. I love adventure, not because of the danger but because of the need to innovate thoughts and actions to meet the challenge before me.
Teachable. I’m energized by ideas, old and new. I love finding out I’ve been wrong if it means getting better at doing something right. I enjoy getting my head around concepts that change the game in other areas of life and finding out where those rabbit holes go. I don’t like failing, but I don’t view being wrong as a failure in the classic sense. If I’m not changing, I’m stagnating, which is the beginning of dying in my mind. People who aren’t teachable sadden me at best and frustrate me at worst.
Honest. If I can’t look myself in the mirror without averting my eyes, I might as well call it a day and stop living. I cannot for the life of me understand how people can live a lie and still sleep at night. When I see my own mistakes, I admit them. When I see my sins, I confess them. When I see that I’ve hurt someone, I apologize—fully and passionately. The Holy Spirit has grown a hypersensitive spot in my heart that literally feels ill when I’ve crossed a moral line, especially when it comes to truth telling. He never lets me off the hook, and I never want him to. After reading this paragraph, maybe the best way to describe me is that Jesus, living in me, is keeping me honest. It’s like he’s saying, “Brad, if you don’t have your honesty, your integrity, you have nothing. You’ve lost your identity.” I’ve been told my preaching is extremely transparent; I’m not trying to be, it’s just who I am.
Now for a few weaknesses. Many of these stem from the dark side of my strengths.
Stubborn. If I think something is right, I go for it. If I’m wrong, I’m really wrong. And I can be difficult to dislodge from an opinion or course of action. Years ago when I was a youth pastor, I took our youth on an Inner City mission trip to Winnipeg. The organizers (good friends of mine) were elated, since they’d been trying to get me to come for years already. I heard through the grapevine that they’d laughed aloud when my applications came in, saying something like, “Praise the Lord. Brad won’t do something unless he thinks it’s his idea.” Guilty as charged, far too often.
Impatient. The dark side of passion is that all emotions are powerful, not just the helpful ones. The passionate idealist in me means I get frustrated when things don’t pan out the way I hope they do. I struggle with anger and a temper that wriggles free of Jesus’ grip far too often. This makes me less effective as a shepherd and parent in particular.
Pessimistic. This is a strange one, because I’m a visionary idealist. One of my strengths is to visualize possible outcomes, and I don’t shrink from thinking through negative ones. The problem is, this past year I’ve noticed that I latch onto worst possible scenarios far too quickly. It’s not just realism, but a lack of faith I’m trying to bring to the feet of Jesus. Slowly but surely.
Selfish. One of my strengths is an ability to take care of myself. The problem is, I do it far too quickly and thoroughly at times. I play ten more minutes of video games when I know I’m needed upstairs. I lie in bed another ten minutes when I know I should help get ready for church. I’m more of a leader than a servant, even though leaders are supposed to be servants. I invest myself in projects (sermons, writing, art) more easily than in people because people require more of me and I don’t want to give more of myself. I take the easy road far too often.
What about you? Care to list a positive and a negative in your own life? There’s something freeing about doing it…