If you have not had a chance to pick up Ron Greer's new book, you will want to do so. It could be the title of a great sermon series especially for the lectionary texts on David this summer. See the recent review in the Wesleyan Christian Advocate. I know Ron from working together at Peachtree Road UMC. He would be an excellent speaker for your church this Fall.
"If You Know Who You Are...You'll Know What To Do"
Review by Wesleyan Christian Advocate, Martha M. Tate, LCSW
“Seek not abroad,
turn back into thyself,
for in the inner man dwells the truth.” St. Augustine
If You Know Who You Are…You’ll Know What To Do is a book on integrity, written by a man of integrity. In his characteristic clarity, Rev. Ron Greer guides us through a consideration of the meaning of integrity. He shows us how to “live as God created us, congruent with the life to which we are called.” He states that, “By my integrity I am defined. Out of that integrity I make the choices that become my life.”
“If you know who you are…You will know what to do.”
When I was a young teenager, about to go on my first date, I slipped into an uncharacteristic bout of shyness. Daddy said, “Are you nervous?” I shook, “Yes!” He said, “Don’t be. Just be yourself.”
His sage advice settled me for a moment. Until the larger question roared from within, “Who am I?!”
The answer has unfolded over my lifetime, building slowly with twists and turns along the long road home.
Greer’s book is a valued companion, a gifted guide for all who seek to hear and respond to the clarion call of authenticity.
He differentiates personal and moral integrity; “Personal integrity is when we are authentically the persons we were created to be. Moral integrity is when we do what is right simply because we know it is the right thing to do.”
He concludes that a well lived life requires both; “Integrity involves both the uniqueness of who I am as a person and the integration of the values and wisdom that guide me.”
Integrity implies a wholeness of being, a congruence of thought, feeling and behavior which establishes an integration in the personality. Each of us is uniquely created with a particular combination of traits that are not replicated in any other person.
Authentic living means that we discover our own God ordained selves and then lead our lives accordingly. This sounds so simple. We know it isn’t.
The discovery requires reflection; “I can not successfully define myself from outside of myself. That definition is between God and me.”
This “definition” is a process that leads us into our own souls, destinies, and lives. The energy, joy and confidence that emerge as welcomed by-products are the qualities of an abundant life.
Yet, we wander off our paths. We ignore our callings. Our rationalizations “override our true voices.” We travel paths not our own. It’s called human nature. We prefer our “personas” or masks, to our true selves. We adapt in order to please parents, peers and society. We lose our true north for the sake of accolades and acceptance.
In his classic, compassionate way, Greer tells us the truth in love. Acknowledging the detours, he then shows us the way back to the lives we have been given. And, he assures us that; “Each of us, no matter how far off we have wandered, hears a call to congruence. It is a call to lives of meaning, joy and abundance.” It is a call back to our true natures. The ones that God knew before he formed us in the womb.
While certain core aspects of our personality remain constant, the ways in which we manifest those will change over time, as we mature. This process of growth occurs through a series of transitions. Greer adeptly describes this journey and, in so doing, equips us for it.
Having grounded us in our personal integrity, he then discusses moral integrity; “in order to be whole we must not only be authentic, we must be moral.”
Describing values as the beliefs and ideals we consider important and virtues as the qualities of character and moral excellence within us, Greer then encourages our discernment of these in our personal lives. “Look at what you are doing when no one’s looking”. And, you will see who you are and what you value.
With the skill of an ethicist, Greer examines the values of truth, character, courage, relationship, fidelity, respect and remembering. Through real life examples he portrays their role in shaping a life of character. Encouraging us to hammer out our moral codes, he reminds us that the values we adopt are foundational for the principles by which we will live. Our judgments then derive from these principles and will lead to our actions and behaviors.
Having looked at integrity from “both sides now”, Greer concludes his journey at the foot of the cross. Reflecting on the life of perfect integrity, Jesus of Nazareth, Greer finds a model for the process.
Having been enlightened by this jewel of a book, I feel prepared to join him in saying; “In the quiet of the sanctuary, I look up, and am reminded to be all I was created to be.”