I recently read an article entitled, “Five Life Lessons You Can Only Learn by Getting Fired.” It was in Forbes Magazine, so it was centered on business. It caught my eye because I was once fired. I think I was twenty-one years old at the time, and I hadn’t seen it coming.
Looking back, I definitely deserved it; and it taught me a lot. Getting canned can contain many of life’s lessons. Learning from them can be a rough experience (albeit a very valuable one).
One of the “lessons” the article enumerated (the final one listed) was “You learn that you can survive getting fired without forgetting who you are.” I suspect that’s not always true. I suppose some people, upon getting the pink slip, try their darndest to forget who they are.
“Remember who you are…”
Still, I like what it says. If you can survive a firing and still maintain your true self in the process, you’re probably a stronger person for it (assuming your true self is worth maintaining). If we forget who we are, we can be set adrift in some really choppy waters.
I have a friend who once told me something his mother always said to him when he was going out on the town. As he headed for the door, she would look at him and say, “Remember who you are and who you belong to.” That’s pretty good advice. It’s when we forget who we are that we get ourselves into trouble.
If you’re a Christian, you are many things. Scripture tells us we’re “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, [and] God’s special possession.” (1 Peter 2:9) That’s quite a tall order to live up to. Think about that the next time you head out the door.
You might look at those words and say, “I’m not those things. I’m certainly not holy!” But don’t forget, that’s what God says you are. You are chosen to be those things.
Grow Into Your Name
Remember the story of Gideon (Judges 6-8). The angel of the Lord came to him and addressed him as “mighty warrior.” Gideon was down in a hole, shaking in his boots at the time. He was anything but a mighty warrior. Yet, he grew into his name and became one.
It’s similar to Christian baptism. When we’re baptized, we aren’t the people we will become in time. We need to live into our baptisms. People might look at you and say, “He’s not much of a Christian.” The answer to that one is (hopefully), “No, not yet. But he’s getting there.”
The fact of the matter is you’re going to screw things up from time to time. You’re not perfect, but you are chosen, forgiven and named by God. Part of your job from that point on is to remember who you are. If you don’t forget who you are, you can get a good handle on where you’re headed in life.
And you probably don’t have to get fired to learn that.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently the pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]