Are you living beneath your dignity?

Yes, I know times are tough.  I spoke at a conference recently and had the opportunity to talk to people who are wondering if there is any reason to be cheerful or optimistic.

As a Russian priest (1829 – 1908), Father John Sergiev first thought he wanted to be a monk in the remote areas of Siberia – but after a vision, he realized God wanted him to be a missionary right where he was – in the hustle and bustle of the big urban city of St. Petersburg.  While most priests remained in the safe confines of their cathedrals, Father John would go out into the noisy, dirty, crime-ridden slums and back alleys of the city.

He would find someone down and out in the gutter, sleeping off the effects of the previous night’s drink and activities.  Father John would cup his chin; look him in the eyes and say, “This is beneath your dignity.  You were created to house the fullness of God.” Wherever he went, people found new hope and optimism because they discovered, or were reminded, of who they were.  Seeing ourselves in the light of who God made us to be is both exciting and contagious.

So, are you expressing the fullness of God today?  If you are full of despair and hopelessness because of the current economic situation, I doubt there is room for much else.  If you are angry and resentful because your stocks crashed, your house dropped in value or you lost your job, I suspect that is what people will first hear about you.

Can you remember what you were created for?  When I hear people complain about how bad their lives are I’m going to start saying, “This is beneath your dignity.  You were created to house the fullness of God.”

This is your life, are you who you want to be? – Switchfoot

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14 Responses to “Are you living beneath your dignity?”

  1. Joe Says:

    I love this post thank you for the pick-me-up so dearly needed!!
    Something I need to remind myself more often that I was created to house the fullness of God! Oh those are great words to cement into the first thoughts of the day!

  2. therealmotherlode Says:

    As I was chatting with a clerk in Dollar General, I asked him how he liked his job. He said, “It’s a job. I come to work….and I get my check. That’s fine with me.”

    That made me feel so sad. He is a nice, young, attractive man with no ambition…no vision.

    What has this man lived through in his short life that made him so dull and disinterested in life? Ah! I know….he’s living beneath his dignity. (That’s the short answer anyway. 😉 )

  3. FinancialBondage Says:

    I am grateful to have a j.o.b. But it’s just that. a job. a paycheck. sometimes life kicks the wind out of your sails and you just feel like giving up and quitting.

  4. Mike Sparks Says:

    Dan , like the post. It reminds me of what Christ stated in Matthew 25:
    35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Everyone needs encouragement, one just can simply see the news and people suffering in Haiti and see how fortunate we all are to just live in this great Country.

  5. J. White Says:

    Psalm 139:14
    I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

    I have the privilege of working for a large metropolitan fire department as an ambulance driver. A majority of what I see are the effects of depression, hope lost, drug and alcohol abuse…….. a lot of people who have given up on life.

    Assuming all medical issues are addressed and my patient is stable I start to ask what is going on in their life. 9 times out of 10 you will hear a “hard luck” story. When you start to share the gospel and share God’s love, plan for their life, you can see many start to tear up and realize they are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27).

    Next time I will come across one who is working off the effects of substance abuse I will echo Father John Sergiev’s words. Great Post Dan!

  6. Ja. Baldwin Says:

    Wow thank you! Because of Dan and other mentors. I have found what I am not just good at but what I wake up excited to do. Dittos to what others have posted. We all have a purpose, after we tap into it, how can we help others do like wise…

    Best regards,


  7. Jeannie Blethen Says:

    In 2006, I was unemployed, living with my sister while I looked for a job, then moving to where I now live and staying with a “stranger” in exchange for odd jobs. I turned down the first job offer I’d had in over 7 months because as I drove back into these hauntingly beautiful mountains of Western NC, I decided to listen to my “little voice” that told me I was where I was supposed to be. A short time later, I was offered a small grant-funded position working with a farm-to-school program, and a week or so after that, through one of those serendipitous happenstances, I reconnected with my Dream Man, whom I had met 36 ago when I was in college. He was living in AZ–all the way across the country!–but neither of us had forgotten the other, and within a month, the romance was rekindled and we began making plans to be together. We married on 09-09-09 in a simple, sweet ceremony in a tiny wayside chapel in the mountains. We now own a log cabin on top of a mountain with breathtaking views, are active in the rural community agricultural programs, and are “living happily ever after.” We have very little income, but we both know that money doesn’t make you rich!

  8. jayspalette Says:

    What a great reminder of a greta anchor for the soul. The issue of existence that forms the foundation of our lives- our understanding of who we are. We have dignity because of God’s grace. We can move through life going through good and bad times and yet retain our dignity, our sense of value, being based on nothing derived from ourselves or this life. Success and value take on different pictures. A great positive foundation to engage life.

  9. Vern Davis Says:

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, Thank you

  10. Terry Says:

    Whoa. I am convicted.

  11. William Joel Says:

    Thank you very much Dan and to all of you have responded so honestly to this post. I too am challenged by the example of the faithful priest and by Jesus’ words in scripture. I’m afraid I opened wide the door to the Enemy and to discouragement, despair, frustration and anger last year. In 2009 I lost three jobs, my home, my marriage and the relationship with my step-son. I essentially drove my wife to leave because I was not completely obedient to God’s will in searching more diligently for work and failed to demonstrate enough unconditional love and respect and kindness to her.
    Though I was faithful to my wife and I never harmed her or her son physically, I did say and do things to both of them that I deeply regret and have confessed to the Lord and for which I have asked their forgiveness. I was committed to staying together for the rest of our lives as I had promised her on our wedding day, and I do not believe that she has grounds biblically for divorce, however, she has shown no interest in reconciliation and all that I can do is appear at the hearings which have yet to be scheduled and grant her the divorce.
    I am so thankful that I have such a great support system in terms of my loving family and friends and a fantastic church family to which I belong. I know that there are so many who have faced losses greater than my own (the tragedy in Haiti has been a sobering event that has helped me to gain real perspective) who do not have the kind of love and support that has encouraged me as I have grieved and struggled to let go of my wife and step-son.
    As I continue to submit applications and resumes, and seek God’s will for my work path, I will bear in mind the “5 Predictors of Success” that Dan listed. And I will specifically pray that the Holy Spirit will provide me with “new strength to fly above the challenges” and to empower me toward a “fresh release of what is unique about (me).” Thank you again, Dan.
    Psalm 27 begins with the bold declaration, “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?” Rhetorical questions from Israel’s greatest king. The answer? A resounding “Nobody! This great passage closes with David saying, “I would have despaired/lost hope had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord, and He will strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.” I will wait on Him.

    William Joel (not the piano man)

  12. Dan Pedersen Says:

    Thanks Dan for the reminder. This also reminded me of Acts 38:10, where it says that Jesus “went about doing good and, in particular, curing all who were harrassed and oppressed by (the power of) the devil.” And since we know that the devil was defeated at the cross, the only “power” he has is deception. The devil loves to “harrass and oppress” us in our thoughts, because if he can get us to believe his lies they will become our reality. What Father Sergiev and did and what you have vowed to start doing is a great example of Christ likeness.

  13. Michael A. Caschetta Says:

    I still haven’t found what i’m looking for. I believe that as long as you keep thinking the same way you’ve always been thinking your going to get the same results or life experiences. Just take a look at your life’s past and ask yourself,why do I keep repeating the same mistakes or end up with the same type of partner or the jobs I truely dislike. You are what you think about. Change your thinking and then change your life. Turn off the TV and stop reading about all the negitive stuff in the newspaper and see what happens for yourself. Remember, you can’t change anyone BUT yourself. Our Father in Heaven has blessed you already. Amen

  14. Tim Giangiobbe Says:

    That is true if one has the Resources to accomplish whatever is wanted.The resources are more easily obtained for some citizens.The Crazy thing is the Biggest Portion of compassion and charity seems to be going to the Corporations.That is a Crime when there are so many Baby Boomers on the streets.True Compassion takes time nd Money and helps one not to be Dependent.Half Measure Compassion Just gives a Daily Small handout that only Places Small Bandages on the Gaping Wound.The Homeless Independence Initiative will not be aa Bandage.The Cannabis Tax Initiative will make this Happen.What a Concept.VOTE YES on The Tax Cannabis Initiative in California.

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