This morning I woke and wondered to myself what it means to be authentic.
As I contemplate what this is, I initially would describe authenticity as the discovery what one is really good at – or loves. They might be the same thing – maybe not – and then giving a wholehearted focus into whatever that talent is.
I’m pondering this in terms of work, you know, our “So… what do you do?”.
Yet really, our lives are one. Work isn’t separate from the rest of our life. Or shouldn’t be, I believe. It’s part of the whole. Not separate compartments, otherwise it’s as if we have a multi-personality disorder. My work is part of who I am. That’s what I think of as authenticity: discovering what connects with my soul and going all-out:
Passion is first, talent second
If I’m really good at something but dislike it, that is not authenticity. A disconnect permeates as an intangible “knowing” and others sense something is off. But if there is a genuine love for what one does, even if the talent is less than another, people are drawn to that passion.
This reminds me of an earlier business I owned. I struggled for years to make it work. Hired coaches, learned lessons, talked to others, constantly improving and trying new things. People would comment on how beautiful and well-done everything was and those who knew the behind-the-scenes issues would comment, “You’re doing everything right. I don’t know why it’s not working.” I heard this over and over. So much so, that I had to admit that there was more than just “doing things right” or “living right”.
It’s like we all have this “X” factor in our life.
If we can do everything right and still miss something, that “something” is abstract – part of our spirit. An important aspect of who we are and what we do but we don’t have words to identify it.
We like authenticity, passion, confidence. Seeing someone connect with their own soul is irresistible. That is the spirit-side of us, the “x” factor.
So why don’t most of us engage with that part of ourselves? The core of who we are and what we love? It seems only a handful of people find that place of authenticity.
I suspect fear, expectations of others and a host of other things that all fall into the category of fear.
We are powerful, engaging, impactful and fulfilling our God-given purpose when we connect with our soul and find our authenticity. It’s like a lock and key. It’s the place where we bring our few loaves and fishes and God intervenes to support the masses.
It’s the place where spirit, soul, and body are in agreement.
If I do everything right and do it well, but my spirit is full of insecurities, doubts, uncertainty – that will undermine it all. (This is also what the Bible calls double-mindedness. It’s unstable. Doesn’t work). The enemy doesn’t ever want us reaching that point of authenticity. That place of single-mindedness and where we confidently discover our calling and purpose that the Father decided on before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1). Satan hates us and keeps us bound in fear, chasing rabbits and being satisfied with mediocrity. He tempts with the idea that the life of leisure is the end-goal. That at some point, we are no longer useful. So he whispers in our ear, “Do what you can, what makes you comfortable, then sit back and kick up your heels. You deserve to do whatever you like as much as you want and disengage with the world.”
Recently, I was fascinated to learn that the word “work” is the same as “worship” in the Bible.
Maybe that is why satan never wants us to engage with our authenticity – it’s an act of worship! I think of talented artists such as Georgia O’Keefe. She painted marvelously to the end of her days. People were drawn to her and her art – and still are. I don’t know if she knew Christ, but I do know that whether she realized it or not, she found that place of convergence and authenticity. I believe her work was worship.
Whatever you do, do heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
That is the one thing satan especially hates, worship to the Father. He was, after all, the head of worship until God stripped him of that. We not only carry the glory of God – our work, which involves fulfilling our calling, is a beautiful act of worship to the Father.
Living in authenticity is not doing everything right and having the best talent, but instead it’s connecting with our passion and living out our calling. When we do that, people notice and are drawn to the convergence of body, soul, and spirit; the moment where we are fulfilling our God-ordained calling.
In other words, authenticity is where our work is our worship.