The first time I ever acted, the Director kept telling me, “Make use of the stage!” That the moment when I stood out there was all mine and I should fully utilize it. Unfortunately, in that moment when I was trying simultaneously to remember my lines and lock out fear of the audience, the stage felt a mile long. We all know the phrase, “Life is a stage”, and to some extent this is true.
What do you want to be?
When I was 10 years old and people would ask the famous question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” my answer was, “A pilot”. Not because I knew much about pilots, but because there was a calendar hanging in my home with a picture of a pilot in the cockpit. When I learned that pilots are the ones navigating planes in the air, I could not think of a cooler thing to do with my life.
This was such a beautifully naïve stage in my life when choices were driven simply by what looked exciting.
By the time I was finishing primary school, I answered that same question by saying I would like to be a doctor. It was a prestigious profession, and precisely the type of career expected of people who passed their exams. Barely into adolescence and my naïve bubble had already popped.
I knew my societal standing was based on what I did, and that a major factor in choosing one’s career was not how exciting it would be, but how much it paid.
With this in mind I focused on science-oriented subjects in high school with the aim of becoming an elite doctor. Barely one term later, I realized I was not built for the sciences and experienced a full-on identity crisis. If I wasn’t at the top in academics or a future doctor, what would I do?
A Millionaire Businessman
At the beginning stages of my undergraduate studies, there were many people in Christian circles asking what our purpose in life was. I did not like this question at all. I responded by saying my purpose was to be successful millionaire business man for God and to use my wealth to support ministries. What a great way to make a desire for wealth sound spiritual! I excelled in commerce and business and pursued a degree in this field with clarity and purpose.
For a while this worked, and I was on the path for business success. But there was no sense of calling in how I worked, no aspect that what I did was for anyone’s glory other than my own. The ultimate drive was money, success and fame.
Working towards the Kingdom
Two years later I “woke up” and realized I wanted more than the accumulation of wealth. This path led me to find a great calling working in the church with the youth, helping them to grow in faith and clarity in their own callings to serve the Lord. One might think this would be the end of this story, but over eight years later I find myself in the Hesabika Mentorship Program.
Over these last three months, I have learnt that a large part of my identity is formed around what I do as a pastor. I had limited the scope of what I could do for God in my role as a pastor at Nairobi Baptist Church working with the youth congregation. I was not open to other possibilities of how God might want to use me.
My Hesabika mentor shared a thought-provoking illustration on how the identities we wear are like a stage and the size of the stage depends on limitations in our identity. If we actually follow the identity God gives us, the platform would be limitless.
On this journey, God has been showing me that I need to redefine who I am according to who He says I am. I am realizing that these other identities we create are limiting factors to what God wants to do through us. The more I have allowed this mindset to sink in, the more I have seen opportunities for ministry open.
Imagine if Moses had limited himself to be a shepherd in the wilderness, or David as a young shepherd boy, or Peter as an uneducated fisherman? Would they have heeded God’s call and done the great things they did for the Lord?
What is the size of your platform? What identities have you created? And do they limit what you could be doing for God?
This post has been written by Mwangi Muthui, a member of the 2019 Cohort, Hesabika Mentorship Program