Being Placed in Your Office Part 4


The third marker of being in the office of person is when those over us feel and express pride in our achievements.

This is an ordinary part of life for most kids.  As the child progresses through the initial steps of learning to wave good-bye, say Dada, walk, be potty trained and make their own bed, they are affirmed and their small achievements are remarked upon and celebrated.

As school years begin, there are the regular report cards, sports achievements, and learning how to program the VCR to work with all four remotes, something which mom and dad could never figure out.

Then as life becomes more complex, there is the dinner table discussion of messy interpersonal dynamics at school or work, and the “attaboys” which come when you sort out a doozy of a problem in a reasonably decent fashion.

The sad reality is that some people do not even have those basic memories of approval to look back on.  Simple things like the first time you rode your bike without training wheels were either ignored or were slammed with a comment about how overdue you were to get there.

The compensation, of course, is to find affirmation somewhere else.  For some, it is to embrace a deeply counter-culture look and position yourself for affirmation from your peers for being bad, since being good was not affirmed.

For those who lack the courage to rebel outwardly, they often engage in a fantasy life of being dynamic in some form or another and being wildly celebrated in their fictitious parallel universe.

Others opt for self-validation through games.   I wonder how many gamers are pursuing affirmation from the higher point score today than they got yesterday.  Lacking a person to celebrate their skills, they embrace the score board as their (pathetic) alternative affirmer of personhood.

And, of course, there is the nearly ubiquitous pursuit of achievement through work.

But that is where the bite is.  Because when we are not in the office of person, we can outperform the norm or the team and not even be noticed.  I have watched so many high achievers deliver the goods time and again, in ways equal to or superior to their peers, only to be ignored with benign neglect.

In the end, we were designed to have affirmation.  There seems to be no substitute for it.  Even Jesus Christ was publicly, verbally affirmed by God from heaven twice during His life here on earth.

So what does it look like in daily life, if we missed that in the first round?

First we need to determine whether it was an across-the-board deficit or a selective deficit and to look at the areas where the praise did not land because it was far from our design.

For me, it was certainly selective.  For whatever reason, Dad taught us kids how to drive when we were in our early teens.  You could do this in the jungle.

We learned in an old Jeep with three gears on the floor and a clutch that had been damaged with an oil spill sometime or another.  Consequently, the Jeep bucked a bit when we shifted gears.  I worked hard, driving the clay roads to Agua Boa and back again.  In time I was rewarded with a solid affirmation from my dad for my driving skills.  Can you tell I still remember that day with emotion?

Looking back, I would say I was broadly, although certainly not effusively, affirmed in my childhood.

It was different with ham radio.  Dad was a radio operator during the war and he carried over his love of ham radio to the mission field.  Even though he could not operate in a foreign country, we kids were always exposed to the technology of electrical circuits.

I was not a natural at this, but I tried hard to learn the lingo and along the way had some meager successes and some overt praise from Dad, but since it was out of my area of design, it somehow did not stick particularly well.

When you affirm something that is not part of our core design, it doesn’t do much to putting us in the office of personhood.  For all my whining about being a Neanderthal and liking it, the reality is that I do a halfway decent job of being a geek.  Not stellar, but I get a few things done in this department.

But it is not core design for me — rather something forced on me by evil twist of fate that landed me in this technological age.  You can praise me all you want for my meager achievements and it won’t do much at all to make me solid at the core.

Going back to my childhood, there was one area of excellence that stood above the rest:  the issue of ministry and specifically “rightly dividing the Word of truth.” This was Dad’s forte.  For him to praise me for skill in Bible study would have been high praise indeed.

AND it most certainly is an area of my design.  I began teaching at around 12 years old and preaching at 16.  Dad coached and corrected me with patience and impatience until I left home and then occasionally thereafter.

I longed for approval in that area since I highly respect his prowess in that department but I strayed from orthodoxy long before that honor came.

To summarize, in my life there was a general, low-grade affirmation of my achievements, somewhat offset by the solid reality that I was the family black sheep by the time I was two.  However, the single most important area in which I craved validation was a big blank spot.

THEN, I started Plumbline and was widely roasted as a heretic — someone who wrongly divided the Word of truth to the detriment of others.  I got hammered in the one place where I was already the most vulnerable.

This subject is so new to me we have more questions than answers.  I wonder, for example, if being in an office is a one time thing or not?  I would say I was in the office of personhood when I left home.  I see no particular markers for not being there.

But after the firestorm where I was reviled and rejected for my theology, much of my behavior over the next five years smacks of non-personhood, and in retrospect, I can see I spent most of my time with non-persons.  So does that mean I got knocked out of the office by that systematic delegitimazation?

I am not sure but it looks that way.

I do know that in my own life, there were three separate encounters with God that helped put me solidly back in the office.

The first, ironically, came out of the firestorm itself.  I ended up pondering the passage where God and the devil were placing bets on Job.  I was deeply moved by the fact that God so believed in Job He was not only willing to bet on him, but God twitted the devil about Job’s stellar qualities and the devil rose like a trout.

The thought crossed my mind, “I wonder if this mess I am in is a test like Job’s?  I wonder if God is betting on me?”

I did not know and often chided myself for such non-Calvinistic flirtations with the heinous crime of pride.  But the thoughts never really went away, and I decided rather privately, that since I was already toast in the eyes of men, there was no point trying to gain their favor by recanting in part or in whole (even if I would).  So just in case God was betting on my holding my own against the Keepers of the Ancient Way, I would go the distance.

Today I feel highly validated, and I still don’t know whether God and the devil ever had a personal conversation about me, but I feel quite confident that God believed His design of me would trump all the outward obstacles.

The second milestone for me came when I realized that God had “saved” some of the more complicated deliverance problems of the day just for me.  It was not some fluke of nature that some real strange flukes of nature showed up on my doorstep!  He was deliberately giving me things I did not know how to handle.

It dawned on me one day with incredible force that God believed in my ability to reason from Scripture and to come up with a principle-based solution to a new problem!  He believed in my ability to “rightly divide the Word of truth!”  He spoke to other people in verbal revelation about what to do, but He was silent when He gave me a new riddle because He got such a kick out of watching me solve it — and He believed I could and would.

That was solid.  I knew it was in a stronger class than my wondering if He had bet on me with the devil.  Whether hell was involved in this or not, He was betting on me with all of heaven watching and was very proud of the principles I dug out of Scripture and the freedom that followed.

Years passed with my walking fairly solidly on the inside edge of the office of personhood.  Then one day, I led a profound moment of ministry.  I knew at the end of that day that the world would be a different place because of me and what I did that day.

And I so overwhelmingly felt that my Father was profoundly proud of me that day.  I “knew” theologically that He was proud of me before that, but on that day, He gave me a revelation into my spirit of how proud He was of me.

I am a theologian.  I can reason out the root of a problem.  I do bring out new truth that sets people free.  Furthermore, I was made to do that.  It is who I am.  I have unpacked a sizable chunk of my identity, and Father was flat out proud of me.

And I doubt anyone or anything could possibly knock me out of the office of personhood again.  That one will stick.

Now there is a footnote to this story, when I thought my personhood was a settled issue.

People from time to time ask me what I do.  I have a wide range of true (and incomplete) answers, depending on whether I want to get rid of them, intimidate them, inform them or engage them.

One line I occasionally use is, “I run a think tank.”

If they press me about what we think about, I might say, “We develop leadership strategies for social entrepreneur that are case appropriate to the specific social DNA of each target group.  Most current social entrepreneurs are using a leadership model borrowed from the corporate world, government or religion and none of those three models is effective in producing sustainable values substitution at the core of disparate cultures which are in seminal transition.”

That is generally more effective than pepper spray or mace at thinning the crowd.  And if anyone is left standing after that barrage, I do have a second barrel to my shotgun loaded with more of the same and it isn’t birdshot.

I wear a lot of hats and enjoy doing so (most of the time).  But at my core, I know that some fine day, like Bartholomew Cubbins, my 500th hat will come off.  When it does, I will joyously retire to my lab to be the quintessential mad scientist, working in blissful solitude.

I know it is who I am.  I am secure in that.  It doesn’t matter if anyone believes in me or not in that area.  I am who I am.  I was made for this.  It will be.  It is ordained.  I simply don’t need affirmation.

Or so I thought.

I was with some pretty erudite friends recently, including a research scientist.  We were discussing some of Sapphire’s wild and wacky dreams, and I postulated some methodologies for solving a series of problems.  Discussion around the room was robust for a while, probing my ideas and building on them.

At the end of the day, the research scientist said to me in front of everyone, “Wow, Arthur.  You are a scientist!”

I was totally unprepared for the deep surge of excitement inside me at being validated from outside.

Who knew that it mattered to me that someone was proud of that particular subset of who I am?

I thought I was rock solid there, totally sure of myself, but the depth and force with which a six word validation landed says differently.

Perhaps even after we are permanently settled in our office of personhood, there is room for more rootedness as other portions of our design are affirmed.

Copyright October 2011 by Arthur Burk

From the Quarterdeck, in Anaheim

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23 Responses to Being Placed in Your Office Part 4

  1. Barry Leisegang says:

    I have been chasing God , truth, and anything that would keep me sane in a world that i did not understand and that no one was explaining to me. GOD PROMISED ME .. healing and protection but only in not avoiding the issues when He brought them up. I have been out of step and different from the get go. I seek why things are not working as they aught… I know the power of god I have seen it .. I know itis his will to bring things around to healing …. but how to fix a crooked man in a crooked house who walks a crooked road and has a cooked mind tongue and heart? First I wanted to find some place to start my healing, then find a place of understanding and then find a a place of ministry and a place to let God work. This has been a long road I have some spiritual fathers who have watched over me and spoken encouragement. But where this is going will heal nations and peoples…. and bring revival in a day……

    Barry

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  2. Brandee says:

    I have been studying your website and materials all this year. God has placed me in a different place this year. I don’t know how to put it into words. I feel a “coming out” happening. My heart and spirit leap when I am engaged in this material. I can only put it in a picture this way. I play the piano and so I see life like a keyboard, I believe I found the octave I belong in, but I still feel like I am searching for my chord and then my note. I feel like the information you produce brings me in the realm of my chord.I find this material on person hood very stirring and fascinating. Thank you for pursuing this exciting material.I am eagerly looking forward to much more.

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  3. Thank you for sharing about your walk, Arthur. I have tried to NOT need the approval or affirmation of others because I knew it had been a serious weakness for me for so long, but it’s a delight to hear that we do continue to be blessed by affirmation. This will help me receive it more gladly and thank God for His design of me! And I hope to be more reliant on the identity that has been gained and restored by God. Ready for the next article. These are a feast for the spirit.

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  4. Rosa says:

    So many good things to think about. I am reminded, as I read that “even though we can be permanently established in our personhood, there is still room for more rootedness”,that life is a continual process,based on whether I allow myself to be open to growth,even when I wish to be done. And to remember,what I learn is not for myself,only,but to pass it along to others as the opportunities arise. I am challenged to develop a greater awareness of what goes on within,as God brings about change,and although things may have always been a certain way for me,and feel normal,or comfortable, there just might be a better way! I love it,the way you recognized that surge of excitement, even though you knew you were solid in that area. So very encouraging, thank you for sharing, and inspiring hope.

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  5. Narola Grady says:

    This is great. Just had a thought that is restating what Carol Brown said. When you wondered if you got knocked out of the office of personhood…..doesn’t the enemy often challenge any spiritual truth that we speak out? He tries to drown it out by world-initiated circumstances and voices. And that makes our spirit man dig deeper into the Source of truth for Holy Spirit water and affirmation. Thank you, Arthur. I needed to read this article too.

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    • Narola Grady says:

      Need to add onto that remark. Truth always challenges Satan’s kingdom. Since we live in this world, our very existence (because we house Jesus) has major implications for any of the devil’s expansion plans. I know, I know this is something you hear in church all the time. But I’m seeing this in my mind…..the implications of us being mature Freedom Fighters kicking down the walls of deception. We are PEOPLE in capital letters uncovering the REAL KINGDOM with every God thought and action that we do from day to day. WOW!

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  6. Carol says:

    I am so grateful for the meat, the truth, the substance and ideas to ponder upon to be found here. It is better than a banquet for substance-starved followers of God. You don’t serve up Twinkies, Arthur, to the delight of so many. So, thank you and don’t quit. I have used some of your recent musings to good effect while doing some prayer counseling. The timing was “only God could have arranged this.”

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    • Arthur Burk says:

      Carol, I love it! Thanks for sharing. We are like that – have a new idea at 8:30, will try it on the next unsuspecting person who calls the office at 8:40! And yes, it works because God hand picked the person who called at 8:40!

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  7. Mary-Anne Simpson says:

    When I read this post I got a very strong “sense” of a word picture that I have been mulling over so that I can articulate it correctly.

    The picture is this, part of our design includes an internal tuning fork.

    When we either do things that are consistent wth our design, or when people or God affirm us in doing things that are part of our design the tuning fork responds by reverberating within us.

    This resonance rings though our being, spirit, soul and body which are all at that moment perfectly in tune with our intended design and with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is amplified by the approval of the Father resulting in the surge of excitement we feel when this happens.

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  8. Rosa says:

    I always picture a little Thoreau along with the scientist.Great post. it causes something within me to stir,haven’t quite figured out what…

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  9. Thanks for sharing this, I SO enjoyed reading it and inspired me greatly!!

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  10. Emily Malgas says:

    This is AWESOME stuff, like always. Arthur, thank you for standing firm and upright through all the winds and storms around you and stayed in your OFFICE. You’ve done that for all of us around the world. I have listened and study your material for exactly one year and four months and this was the most awesome time I’ve experience with the Lord. I am a server walking in my gift since childhood, I do not know what accidently went right, that I was so firm in my gift. I had all the bad of it and all the good, and sobbed after listing to your teaching of the server, and thank God for all the beauty He has put inside of me, and by God’s grace and knowledge through your teaching, I’ve overcome a lot of the bad. I’ve got a thing about trees and currently looking at all the scripture in the bible about trees, but when Carol Brown mentioned it, I realize that is maybe why my drive always is to get to the root of anything. Through your teachings I refuse to look only to fruit and be deceived by it anymore, but try to find the root. Thank you for helping us to pursue our own office. God bless your wife, kids and staff for sharing you with the world. Blessings to you from South Africa.

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  11. Mike says:

    Arthur the Christian Scientist. I love it! Great posting Arthur. Totally concur. There cannot be a greater sense of satisfaction than the sense of well being that comes from Father validating us as we move from one level of design functionality to the next.

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  12. Joyful says:

    Your words: “Perhaps even after we are permanently settled in our office of personhood, there is room for more rootedness as other portions of our design are affirmed.”

    That feels deeply true.

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  13. Sue says:

    I have been thinking a lot lately about the tree in the desert. Could be where I live, but I think that the issue of the tree needing to set their roots deeper may apply here. Affirming our personhood at different times during our lives may just allow our roots to go deeper so the things in our lives that derailed our personhood in the past don’t, and other onslaughts also don’t derail us! Perhaps it strengthens us so that our personhood can endure in the face of greater threats! I know that I have found that I am able stand firmer than I ever have! Yeah God!!

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  14. Pat Haley says:

    Thanks, much thanks Arthur. Your comment, “and the devil rose like a trout” burst across my spirit like a rocket at the 4th of July. A really big rocket with colors and sparkling streamers. It put into perspective so many things that have been said to me in church situations and at churchy social events where I knew it should feel safe and proved once again to be dangerous waters.

    Always knew intellectually Father trusts and loves me, and now I recieved it spiritually. Kind of fun to realize Father is willing to trust me so much He will use me like a very expensive lure for the enemy to show himself as himself.

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  15. Shirley says:

    I have listened and read your teachings for several years now and have been so greatly blessed and enlarged by them. Today I recognized that part of that blessing is that when I hear you have the courage to think differently than the crowd it affirms me because I have always done that even though I outwardly conform usually and it is refreshing to me to know that I can think “outside the box” and God is pleased with me in doing that. I am giving Him opportunity to bring into the world something new that He really wants here. Thank you for having the courage to be the person that God designed you to be.

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  16. Amy :-D says:

    What else can I say: I love the way you think AND that you share it with us, not to mention the fabulous unpacking you’ve labored over and revealed in this post. Thanks, Arthur, again!

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  17. Tanya says:

    Why is the question. This post has stirred something deep. Not sure what or that I even have the courage to really ponder deeply, but the Lord does. Also Arthur, the scientist’s statement to you brought tears and a flood of emotion for me. You are a scientist of the Spirit! Thank you for sharing your discoveries.

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  18. Olivia says:

    I have suffered because God seemed to speak to others verbally and chose to not speak to me that way. Being around prophetic ministries/people only exacerbated the issue. I always thought something was wrong with me because I couldn’t hear/see as others did. All anybody ever said was ‘keep trying’ or worse, label me as ‘hard to receive’ or used other language to enforce my ‘spiritual deficiency’. And I bought into it hook, line and sinker. I figured God didn’t talk to me, so I settled for God through intermediaries. Once I accepted the fact that I needed someone to help me get to God, then I needed help doing everything else, too.

    It never dawned on me that God’s silence was something else altogether. That it actually could be a sign of his trust. This to me is astonishing. Thank you for this blog.

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  19. Carol Brown says:

    Thanks for sharing this bit of yourself. It speaks to me–not quite sure what it is saying, but, like you say, it landed well! I recently learned that trees need storms. The wind as it rocks the tree causes the roots to move incrementally. That movement creates room for the roots to expand and grow into new areas. Spiritually speaking, the storms of life may be necessary for spiritual vitality. That storm that rocked your personhood did not dislodge you so much as created the opportunity for you to extend your roots, your grasp of who you are. It may have rocked you, but at the end of the day, you are more solid in who you are than you have ever been! God won that bet!! Blessings!

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  20. Katharine F says:

    Again thank you for enlarging the place of our tents! Bravo!

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