Our Self Worth
God can do tremendous things in our lives, if we are willing to hold onto Him and let him work through us. It’s when we put aside our selfishness of seeking only after our personal desires that He reveals to us His awesome plan.
When I was 23, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had just accepted a high end position in finance and was the envy of all of my friends and peers. I was awarded with my own office and a secretary. I was thrilled to see the fruit of my hard work. After I accepted the position, I always introduced myself to strangers with my professional title and what I did. My introductions were not done to be boastful, but I wanted to make sure people knew my accomplishments and that I was someone of great worth. I was really proud of myself and needed the whole world to know.
A few months into the job, I realized that I didn’t like what I did. I found my work redundant, my 90 hour work week unbearable, and I was not passionate about my career. Regardless, I continued on. Maybe it was due to my stubbornness. Maybe it was due to my pride. Now looking back, it’s a combination of all that plus the inability to let go of a job that everyone else envied. As time wore on, not only did my joy diminish, but my work performance began to slip. I just couldn’t seem to get anything right. When you made a small mistake in my line of business, the result could be the loss of millions of dollars. I wasn’t the only one to notice the poor work I was delivering. Whenever my senior associate caught one of my mistakes, he would berate me with condescending words and threaten my job security. His words killed the little confidence I had left, and I performed even worse. It got to the point where my partners had so little faith in me that they started diminishing my responsibilities and had me work on menial tasks.
My personal life also began to change. My outlet from the stress at work was alcohol and partying. I don’t know how many bottles of whiskey I finished during that period of my life. I was either in the office or at a bar. I felt I was always in a haze of drunken stupor and my motto in life was to just get through the day. On the surface, all of my friends assumed I was living the dream. All they saw was a well dressed professional always out in the social scene. No one knew of my struggles. I didn’t share it with anyone because I didn’t want people to think less of me. I didn’t want people to think I was a failure. I didn’t want people to think I was worthless. But beneath it all, I was dying inside.
One day, I reached a breaking point. I was on the phone with my mother and I completely broke down as I told her about all my failures and struggles. I couldn’t hold my life together anymore and sobbed uncontrollably. My parents were shocked and did their best to comfort me. They encouraged me to reach out to my community and not be so prideful about my struggles. So that Sunday, I showed up to church sober, for the first time in a year. I also made a commitment to attend bible study and surround myself with encouraging people that didn’t care about my job title. I figured I had nothing to lose because I had already tried everything I could on my own.
Through a revitalized prayer life and renewed intimacy with Jesus, I realized that my worth was not defined by the things I did but by who Jesus is. When He looks at me, he doesn’t see the dirty stains and the epic failures of my life. What He sees is His perfect son. All this time, I had allowed my occupation to define my worth in society. I made myself a promise that I would never again allow my title, my pay check, my office, and my accolades define my worth. Every day when I go to work, I am no longer working for my partners but for God. All I can do is give my best effort and give up control over the outcomes of my actions. When I am met with a difficult situation at work, I say a simple prayer and trust that He allows everything to happen for a reason. It’s no longer a reason for me to get down on myself. I have the freedom to choose what I think. I have the freedom to choose my actions. I am free from my insecurities and failures.
After that, I stopped stressing about work. My production improved or I just stopped noticing. A few months went by, and I was called into the office of my senior partner. Our fund had done very well in the past year and we finished our investment period earlier than expected. My position had become expendable and it was time to part ways. I had never felt so free in my life. That freedom came from God and I knew He was calling me to pursue my dreams. So I responded.
The day after my last day at work, I packed my car and I began my long drive from the Midwest to San Francisco. My dream had always been to build a startup in Silicon Valley. I didn’t have a job lined up, any family or friends in San Francisco, or even a place to live. However, to me, none of that mattered, because I knew He was with me.
Photo: William Warby/ Flickr