Mining Unique Personal Value & Worth
"Cling to what is good." Romans 12:9
Value & worth
So much of our identity is wrapped within this framework. What is my value and what does that mean about my worth? (What am I truly made of?) Do I matter? (What is it that I bring to the world?) How do I know?
On the macro level, God’s Word provides us with the over-arching answers to those questions, and Melissa highlighted these answers in her blog last week (read that post here: https://www.thefronchard.com/post/patch-work-identity ). We know that we are rooted in God; created, called, cared for, and carried by Him. So, how is it that we can become so easily confused and doubtful about who we are - our uniquely personal value and worth?
The answers to these questions are contingent upon reality: rightly assessing what is really real about who we have been created to be. Assurance of the real stuff inside, being confident in the integrity of who we are and what we are made of, is a necessary step towards fulfilling our purpose. Everything that has been created is made to glorify God. Exactly how we each reflect and glorify the Lord is as multi-faceted, unique, and personalized as the many varied faces and personalities in all of creation over the entirety of the human race. We are both simultaneously glorifying God on a macro level (created as human beings in the image of God) and on a micro level (each one entrusted with unique personalities, giftings, talents, strengths, and weaknesses to steward as a reflection of who God is). If we only focus on the macro, we forfeit our unique opportunities to more fully reflect the Lord to a world desperate to catch a glimpse of Him.
Assaying: Determining Value
In mining, the process of testing and refining metals is called “assaying”. Only once a metal has been purged of the alloys that compromise its integrity can its true value be assessed. I did not fully understand the painstaking process of assaying fine metals until I visited an authentic replica of an assayer’s office during the early years of the Gold Rush.
Looking at the grinding wheel, water sifts, varying weights, and plethora of scales was eye-opening for me. I didn’t realize that the process was such an ongoing ordeal. As soon as your treasure had been crushed, sifted, heated, skimmed, formed, hardened, and weighed – the process would begin again, in more finite detail, with more intensity and precision.
At each weigh-in, a piece of real gold would be placed on side of the pendulum scale, while your “processed” treasure would be placed on the other side of the scale. If your “gold” did not match the weight of the real gold piece on the opposite side of the scale, then back through the process you would go…until the impurities are gone, and all that is left is authentic gold.
Our own personal, specific value is processed in this way as well. We are more than just spiritual: we are physical, emotional, mental, and social. All five of these aspects make us a unique human being. This is God’s design. And because this is by design, all five of these aspects must work together in order to fully understand how we specifically engage in the world. I can know in my mind all that the Bible says about our spiritual identity in Christ, completely believe that what God’s Word says is true, and yet still find it hard to assess my value within my day-to-day life. Not knowing what I uniquely bring into the world can become a hindrance to my ability to authentically fulfill God's intended purpose for my life. (Not to mention, it can make me feel listless, pointless, and meaningless in this world, and I begin to question my identity.)
For me, especially in confusing seasons of life, I find it helpful to assay my values in each of these five areas that make up who I am as a human being: What are the beliefs I truly believe? What resonates within my mind and heart and soul about life and how I engage in the life I’ve been given? What characteristics are most important to me, and carry value to myself, to others, and to the world? What is worth my investment of time, energy, initiation, and emotional strength? Do my choices about my time and efforts prove that I truly value these things? Most importantly, how do these values in these areas align with what I know about God, God’s Word, and my own personal relationship with Him? The answer to this last question is usually the part of the process where I realize what I need to let go of, where falsity and inauthentic living must be pulverized, sifted, melted down, cleaned of impurities, and re-assessed against what I know to be truth according to God’s Word.
I find it easiest to pay attention to my thoughts and feelings throughout the day, and the patterns that I find myself falling into: moods, attitudes, and habits – especially the things I avoid. I require an accounting or explanation of these things – in much the same way I would require answers from my children if I walked into a room to discover a shattered windowpane: What happened here? Where were you? What were you thinking? How did you try to fix this? Whom did you ask for help, or whom should you seek out for help? Was this intentional or accidental? What can we learn from this? What needs to change so this doesn’t happen again?
I compare the reality of what is happening in my life (spiritually, socially, mentally, emotionally, and physically) to the ideals I know to be valuable: integrity, honesty, wisdom, kindness, curiosity, knowledge, compassion, etc… I weigh the reality of how I am functioning to the purity of how God’s Word has defined these ideals. I ask the True Assayer – the One who knows my heart better than I know my own – to aid me in seeing myself clearly and to give me the strength to endure the friction needed to continue in the process of being purified.
Assaying: Pure Value = True Worth
This process, much like actual gold assaying, is a painstaking process. But the result is worth it. In the process, I find that I can let go of the stuff that isn’t worth anything at all and pollutes the authenticity of who God made me to be, hindering my ability to reflect Christ as I am uniquely able to do. I can “cling to what is good…” knowing with assurance that what I am holding onto is authentic, and not a fake knock-off of what I would try to pretend to be. I am able to move with confidence, accepting that I “am God’s workmanship” specifically created to do good works that God has already prepared for me to do (Eph. 2:10). Knowing my values - macro and micro - determines the fortitude of my worth and impact in the world. I am assured that I matter because I have tested to determine whether I am reflecting the Lord in the unique way He has empowered me.
Are there any values or beliefs that resonate within you – that you have held on to for all these years? Are there aspects and characteristics of engaging in the world that you know are God’s good gifts that He has trusted you to use for His glory? Are there patterns of thinking that are life-giving and true, that have been solidified through the flames of adversity and doubt? Take note of those things! Cling to them even tighter as the days grow longer and the work seems to grow heavier. Let the Lord continue to refine those values He has entrusted to you – the unique beauty and reflections of Him that you bring into the world. We need what only you can bring.
That’s authentic value…worth far more than gold.