There is an old saying that familiarity breeds contempt. Jesus said it this way, “A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” (Mark 6:4)
People who spend a lot of time around you are less likely to think you’re a superhero. They’ll see not only the good stuff, but all your mistakes. The closer we are to something the more it loses its mystery. Sometimes as our awe dissolves, so too does our respect.
This of course can have a negative effect on our relationships, but I want to share another way this can harm us. The person you spend the most time with is you. Consequently, often you are the person you’re least likely to value.
I’m not saying we need to figure out how to be more prideful. What I mean is we need an accurate sense of our worth, and the value that we add to the world. We are not to think of ourselves more highly than we should (Rom 12:3), but neither are we to devalue our God given abilities and callings in a perverse form of humility.
God created you in His image (Genesis 1:26). Sin marred you, but if you accept Jesus you are recreated in righteousness and true holiness (Eph 4:24). You have innate, created worth, and even more recreated worth.
Part of that is the unique gifts and callings that are in you. It sounds cliché, but there really is only one you. When God formed you, He used Himself as the model, but because God is infinite, no two humans are the same. We’re all meant to reflect a unique aspect of God’s goodness and marvelous personality.
So, you’re quirks, the things that maybe you think make you weird, really do make you special. Moreover, your unique blend of personality, talent, wisdom, humor, etc. is meant to manifest part of God to the world that only you can.
That all sounds great, but often here’s what happens: We get going in life, find some things we’re good at (numbers, medicine, dance, singing, parenting, teaching, building, managing, etc.) and get into a routine of doing them. Pretty soon, we’re doing certain things almost every day, often without thinking about it too much. If we’re really in our wheelhouse, things will come easier to us than others who are outside their grace. Before you know it, you’re making a living, a home, etc. doing some stuff over and over and over.
This is where the danger comes. Because familiarity breeds contempt. You start to look around and think, “What am I really accomplishing? Does this really help anyone? Does what I do actually matter?”
If you ask other people, they’ll usually say, “Of course it matters! Please don’t stop doing ________”. But sometimes we don’t believe them because we’re too close to the situation. We can let our familiarity with ourselves lead us devalue ourselves.
How do we fix it?
1) Stop stressing over who you aren’t. You can’t be good at everything. In the Kingdom, all the body parts have equal value (See Romans 12). If we think what we do doesn’t matter because we’re not doing what someone else is doing, we’re deceived. Comparisons always lead to deception.
2) Believe people when they tell you what you’re doing matters. When someone appreciates you, let go of the hyper-religious desire to downplay what they said in the name of humility. Honestly listen and think, “Wow, I did something that was significant to this person.” Then, thank God for giving you the ability to do that.
3) Stop trying to measure yourself by worldly standards of success. In fact, stop trying to measure yourself at all. Instead, let God’s opinion of you be the defining reality of your life.
4) Quit believing that to make a difference you have to do something outside your natural inclinations. Hard work matters but working against your natural talents isn’t wisdom. Just because something comes more easily to you than something else doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. The best way to make a difference is to work like crazy within your natural gifting.
If we’ll follow this advice, it will enable us to keep doing what we’re good at for a long time, because we’ll be energized. When we think what we’re doing is irrelevant, it’s hard to summon the energy to keep going. When we see how much it really does matter, however, we’ll press on!