The Role of Self Clarity
Imagine a life without mirrors or reflective surfaces. We would never know how we looked at any point in time without someone else describing it to us. It’s so bizarre that it kind of makes your brain hurt.
Mirrors allow you to see your physical appearance, but what tool helps you see your emotional appearance?
Like life without a mirror, it’s really hard to understand what we are like without reflection. What we need is an internal mirror for self-clarity.
We’ve all had conversations where we come off harsh or uncaring, though that wasn’t our intention. Or, someone made assumptions about your intentions without asking you a clarifying question first. These conversations often hurt, and they catch you by surprise. But almost nothing is more painful than causing harm where you didn’t intend to.
The goal of self-clarity is to close the gap between what you intended (to say or do) and how you were experienced.
If there is no “emotional mirror” then how do we gain self-clarity?
The first step toward self-clarity is a curiosity of yourself. You need to admit, “I might not be who I think I am.”
We are prone to blame our relational frictions on others or on our circumstances. But we often lack ownership in our delivery and how others experience us which enables friction in those relationships.
I like how Chuck Degroat puts it, “We are responsible for how we show up to the world”.
One of the ways we take responsibility for our presence in the world is through our curiosity of self.
Jesus says in the sermon of the mount, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” In essence, Jesus is saying: “Blessed is the person who finds themself unarrived.” Curiosity is one of the first fruits of being poor in spirit. Curiosity says to God and to the people around me that I might not be who I think I am and am willing to change for the love of others.
We need to invite people to give us honest input as to how they and others experience us. You can be curious all day long about how you are doing, but without the input of others, you continue to be misunderstood.
If you’re married, ask your spouse for input. If you’re a leader, ask your employees. If you are single, as a close friend or co-worker. It must be someone in your daily sphere that is able to see every version of you and has permission and credibility to speak honestly.
Schedule regular check-ins with whomever your person is and ask the hard question: “How have you been experiencing me lately?” The answer to that question isn’t always easy to hear, but it’s the only way we learn how to love others well.
Sometimes what we need are helpful tools in our effort to be more self-aware and grow in love of others as we pursue healthy relationships. One type of tool is a “personality test.”
While personality tests are popular in some circles, they are polarizing in others. These tests do not define you or excuse your behavior. The goal of these tests is to serve as another lens through which you can see yourself. They are an emotional mirror of sorts.
One of the primary tools I have found helpful is the Enneagram. This tool is broken down into nine personality styles. When you take the proper test, your results show you how much of each style you exhibit and if you exhibit them in healthy or unhealthy characteristics.
This test isn’t foolproof, but, in my experience, it has been the most helpful. Not only have I found the Enneagram to be a helpful tool for myself, but whenever I’ve helped someone understand their Enneagram scores, they’ve always resonated with the results.
Tools, like the Enneagram, can also be dangerous. When any tool is weaponized to evaluate someone else instead of yourself, especially by people that do not have professional training with the tool, they inflict harm instead of being helpful.
Coaching in these personality tests are often helpful when they are hard to interpret. If you are inspired to take the Enneagram profile test and have someone walk you through your results, I am now offering Enneagram Coaching.
I would love to help you gain self-clarity through this tool and help you follow Jesus more intimately and love others well.
If you want deeper education on the Enneagram, one of the most helpful podcasts on the topic is The Enneacast by Love Thy Neighborhood.
In a world full of self-love and apathy, we don’t need less self-clarity, we need more. If you read this and see no need for self-clarity or self-awareness, then I might encourage you that you are the very person who needs this. I’d urge you to be curious about how you are being experienced by others, to find honest people to tell you how you are doing in loving others, and find tools that might help you on that journey.
The world isn’t looking for a different version of you. God put YOU on this earth to bring him glory. So let’s fight sin, become self-aware, love people well, and struggle forward together.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
The beauty of the gospel story is that we are not a bride with a father who has withheld a bridegroom to take care of us. He provided one. Jesus was given to us so that we know we will be taken care of. With his broken body and his blood, he met us at the alter vowing with his life to take care of us and love us forever. That’s the story of gospel. That’s your story.
It’s alarming how easy it is to forget what we were saved from and that it was not because of our own effort, but only by the grace of God. So subtly can we start to believe that our spiritual maturity simply happened or that we’ve gotten to where we are merely by our effort.
I believe there is an underlying narrative surrounding the value of women that threatens the influencing and flourishing of women in the local church. Beginning to grasp that reality was a painful and confusing process for me. Sometimes this narrative shows up in the most heartbreaking of ways in the local church—like in stories of the devaluing and abuse of women in the church. Sometimes the narrative is less extremely represented through the absence of women in ministry. And sometimes, like in my case, I didn’t think this narrative applied to me at all because of the good ministry situation I was in.
Growing up in the church, I thought of my pastors as Supermen. I saw them as having an unachievable level of skill and godliness. I remember the folks in our church context thought the pastor was perfect. He didn’t take days off. He visited the sick at the hospital every day, and he never seemed to sin, at least not publicly. So, when I felt the call to ministry, I was overwhelmed by this bar of perfection. I knew myself, and I knew my sin. I thought, “I can never be like that!” or at least, “The people I serve in ministry can never know I sin so much.”