I'm a really lousy supervillain.
No really, I am. I haven't taken over a single country. Not even a city. I haven't robbed any banks, and I haven't defeated any self-righteous heroes with orphan complexes. My minions are more interested in Korean soap operas and Barbies than doing my dark bidding. I still don't have any orbiting laser satellites or nuclear bombs.
So what's a supervillain to do? My grandiose plans for World Domination just aren't coming to fruition. Every day that I don't achieve some new feat, I feel like a failure.
But I've come to realize, these are lies I tell myself.
The truth is, I've accomplished quite a bit, according to anybody's standards. Nothing that would make the ten-o'clock news, but still, I'd like to think I'm more than just a regular guy with no ambition. I've actually got some things to show for my work. But the danger comes when I tie my self-worth into what I've done, and not who I am.
What makes me valuable as a person?
My smarts, my quit wit? My ability to turn a phrase? Musical ability? Physical endurance? Knowledge? Skills?
These are unquestionably part of who I am, yes. But they alone do not determine my worth. What would happen if I were bedridden for, let's say, several months, or years? What if a disease or accident took away my ability to speak or write? What if I lost my hearing and could no longer play music of any kind? What would that make me? Who would I be??
The answer, of course, is that I'd still be me. The intrinsic value of a human life cannot be measured in IQ, cannot be tested on a treadmill. It can't be distilled to a formula, can't be determined with genetics.
Value. Worth. Significance. These are all words we use to describe things that we attach to ourselves, but in the end, none of it lasts forever.
What is a life worth? We are invaluable. The very act of living makes us who we are, and anything that flows out of that is simply icing on the cake.
I know I'm too hard on myself. I've been through so many extremes. As a child, I was called lazy. As a young teen, I had "potential" and later became "talented." As an adult, I'm "driven," or "skilled" or even "experienced."
And yet, who I am hasn't changed. Not really. My brain functions haven't changed significantly. My genetics haven't either.
We lie to ourselves and say our self-worth is produced from what we accomplish. But if you're not worth anything before you've accomplished anything, then no amount of achievement will be enough.
I accomplish what I can, but my worth is not bound to that, because I can always achieve more. If I retired tomorrow and did nothing for the rest of my life, I will still have accomplished more than most people I know. And I still lie to myself and say "it's not enough."
I am who I am, nothing less, nothing more.
Paul talked about Faith and Works in the same way.
He said "faith without works is dead," but by the same token, Works cannot be used to create faith. They are an outpouring, a byproduct of Faith. Not the source of it.
Our worth is in who we are, our character, and how we live. What we do (accomplish) is a by-product of that, not the other way around.
I can still have worth and be a righteous man without doing anything.
But if I'm a righteous man, I won't.
And that makes all the difference. If I focus on developing my character, instead of doing things, the problem will sort itself out.