Be true to yourself. Follow your heart. You do you. You are enough.
We take these slogans for granted, but what if this path to personal happiness leads to a dead-end? In Rethink Your Self (which releases on Oct 20) author, professor and speaker Trevin Wax encourages you to rethink some of our society's most common assumptions about identity and the road to happiness.
Most people define their identity and purpose by first looking in (to their desires), then looking around (to express their uniqueness), and finally-maybe-looking up (to add a spiritual dimension to life). Rethink Your Self proposes a counter-intuitive approach: looking up before looking in.
It's only when we look up to learn who we were created to be that we discover our true purpose and become our truest selves.
According to Wax, there are three approaches to how we can discover our purpose in life: "The "Look In" approach says to start with yourself. You do the hard work of looking in, to discover who you are and what you want to do with your life. You then look around for friends and colleagues who will support the version of yourself you choose. And then, if you feel like you need a spiritual dimension to your life, you may look up to God or a higher power in order to have something more transcendent to add to your life. This is the dominant way of thinking in our society today.
The "Look Around" approach says to start with the people around you. You look around to your community to tell you who you are and what your purpose of life is. Then, you look up to the sacred order that connects you to the people around you and the ancestors who have gone before you. Finally, you look inside as you come to terms with the person you are, in relation to the community you belong to. This is the dominant way of thinking in other parts of the world and has been dominant for most people throughout history.
The "Look Up" approach says to start with God. You look up first in order to see what God says about you and to better understand his divine design. Looking up prioritizes the transcendent. God is the one who defines you and your purpose, not you and not your community. Next, you look around to the community of faith that is called to cheer you on, to correct you, to love you as part of the family that looks up as its starting point, not ending point. Finally, you look inside and see how God loves you just as you are, while still planning to make you the best possible version of who you are, as he conforms you into the image of his Son. This is the biblical way of seeing life-God first, others second, yourself third.
I hope they will begin to recognize the "be true to yourself" message in all sorts of media and entertainment and politics whenever they see it. I also hope they will better understand how the Bible challenges this perspective with something so much better and more soul-satisfying. I hope readers will see Jesus for who he is, come to love him for being so much better than what the world has to offer and follow him with increasing passion and devotion."
About Trevin Wax:
Wax is senior vice president of Theology and Communications at LifeWay Christian Resources and a visiting professor at Wheaton College. A former missionary to Romania, Trevin hosts a blog at The Gospel Coalition and regularly contributes to The Washington Post, Religion News Service, World, and Christianity Today, which named him one of thirty-three millennials shaping the next generation of evangelicals. As former director of Bible Publishing at LifeWay, he led the launch of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) and served as general editor of the CSB Worldview Study Bible. Currently he is the general editor of The Gospel Project, and an author of many books, including This Is Our Time, Eschatological Discipleship, Gospel Centered Teaching, and Rethink Your Self. He and his wife Corina have three children and live outside of Nashville, Tennessee.