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Know yourself before serving others
Understanding your identity is key to having a successful life, a pastor says in his new book.
Van Moody is pastor of the Worship Center in Birmingham, Alabama. He's also the author of "The I-Factor: How Building a Great Relationship With Yourself is the Key to a Happy, Successful Life."
An "I-Factor" refers to how people think about themselves, Moody told me. It drives how we think about ourselves and how we react to a situation.
There are three components of an I-Factor: identity, significance and perspective.
"When you get those three you're on track to being healthy."
Your identity refers to your knowing who you are, Moody said. "That's the foundation of everything."
He writes, "When you understand your significance, you get in touch with the purpose and the greatness for which you were created. When you understand perspective, you can view the problems you face as stepping-stones to greatness instead of stumbling blocks."
In Matthew 22, Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love the Lord and to love others as yourself, Moody said.
In a previous book, "The People Factor," Moody wrote about loving other people. Now he's turning his attention inward: Love yourself.
Moody also writes about people like Michael Jackson who meet tragic ends. "I have been astounded by stories of people who could not manage some aspect of their lives and ended up dying young or in public disgrace. My goal in 'The I-Factor' is to put a stop to the sad stories of defeat and help people become the main characters in their own success stories."
Your identity is not what you do, he argues. "Because we find it easier to focus on our actions than on our inner beings, we default to talking about who we are in terms of what we do -- when in reality, they are two separate aspects of our lives. ... Identity is about what God has put deep inside of us, not only our uniqueness as individuals, but also the spiritual realities He has deposited in us as believers. When we perceive those gifts rightly, we draw strength and pursue our destinies based on all He has placed inside of us, not on anything we could gain through human effort."
Moody told me that people ask him if he is giving people permission to be self absorbed. He says no. "In Scripture we see salvation coming first from within, then outward. First, find yourself and then lose yourself (to God)." Having a healthy "I-Factor" means finding yourself and living your best life from the inside out, then helping others, Moody said.
"Lots of people jump to the external first," he said. "If you don't have a healthy 'I-Factor' you will hurt your work. If I'm toxic internally, that's what I will produce everywhere."
Moody also discusses "slaying your giants." In the Bible story of David and Goliath, David focused on God's promises while everyone else saw problems. "We all have giants. We all will have them." But we can slay them if we focus on God, he said.
In addition to working as a pastor and author, Moody serves on the board of Joel Osteen's Champions Network and is a member of Dr. Oz's Core Team.
-- Jason Reynolds is a staff writer for the Times-Gazette. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.