Being Placed in Your Office Part 6

Foundational to our personhood is the freedom to make our needs known to others without shame or negative repercussions.

Babies are born with an innate understanding of this freedom.  They shamelessly scream to the world their wants and needs, and it is considered quite acceptable (for a season).

Over time, we teach a child to present their desires appropriately, such as waiting for Mom to get off the phone or saying “Please may I” not “I wanna,” but still, the freedom to express needs AND desires is a foundational part of a healthy childhood.

Clearly, we do not give our kids everything they want.  However, in an emotionally sound environment they should be free to express their wants, even when those things are inappropriate, and to not feel assaulted, even when the answer is “No.”

There are several aberrations to the normal parenting curve.

-One very simple scenario is parents who are too busy or too self-absorbed to listen with their heart to the heart of their children.  While no overt offense is intended, being too busy with adult stuff to engage in the world of a child’s needs or wonderings, sends a very loud message to the child about how valueless their feelings are.  Only their behavior is considered significant to the adults.

-In the home of an alcoholic or rage-aholic, children’s needs are often treated as an offense to the family, since the only needs that matter are those of the emotional tyrant in the tribe.

-In a very poor home, the desires children have for the things that other kids have cause shame and hurt to the parents who can’t provide those things even if they wanted to.  If the parents are not well grounded emotionally, they will tend to react to the kids and make the kids feel guilty for wanting things that the parents can’t give.

-If the child’s desires are different from that of the family culture, those desires may be highly dishonored.  Imagine the child designed by God to be a violinist, being born into a family of committed farmers, or the doctor whose daughter wants to be an auto mechanic.  In an ideal situation, the parents can embrace God’s design for their kids, but too many parents have some pre-defined limits to what constitutes an acceptable career path for their kids.

-And in a home where the parents suffer from lack of legitimacy, it is quite common for all of the children’s needs to be subordinated to the central metric of the kids looking good so that the parents look good.

-Perhaps the most difficult is the child whose feelings are considered to be aberrant by the parents.  Many children have spiritual discernment which the parents don’t have, and when the kids say they are afraid to go somewhere because it is scary, they are apt to be ridiculed or rebuked.  Others have sexual desires that are abnormal for their age, and they are shamed and punished instead of having parents who work to find the root cause.

When a child finds that sharing his needs and wants is unsafe, it will dampen his or her sense of personhood.  When another sibling has free rein to share their feelings and to be validated for them, it really slams the first one as being quite flawed, unnatural or defective, further solidifying exclusion from the office of personhood.

Think of it in terms of the service industry.  We treat them like non-persons in this regard.  I show up at a hotel to check in.  There is a humanoid on the other side of the counter who smiles politely, checks me in and sends me on my way.

But suppose that polite lady is hurting because her father had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s the day before, and she desperately needs to talk to someone who had been down that road and could give her some perspective.

She has some needs, but the business culture vigorously urges her not to share them with the general public.  She is hereby removed from the office of person for the eight hours she is on duty and is placed in the office of “economic unit designed to generate value for the boss.”

So aside from work where we learn to put on a “professional” (i.e. non-real) face, what does it look like to be a non-person in this sector of the puzzle?

-You are a parent who listens to everyone else’s life at dinner but no one asks about your day, and you don’t feel free to intrude your emotions into the discussion.

-You are at a restaurant with a glass of tea.  You like real sugar in your tea, but all that is in the box is artificial sweeteners.  You don’t ask the waitress for a refill on the sugar, even though you know you could.

-You never ask to borrow a tool from your neighbor, even though you know he is generous in sharing his resources in the neighborhood.

-Someone asks you what you want for Christmas and you tell them something you think they can afford, not what you really would like.

-You are in a group discussion about sports, religion or politics.  You have strong opinions but never jump into the conversation, and no one ever asks what you think.

-Five people are going somewhere in a car, and the other four swiftly decide who sits where, without even consulting you.

-You are on a prayer ministry team, but you don’t feel free to share what you heard from the Lord.

-You think about blogging but conclude no one would want to hear what you think anyway.

-You read an intense thread on someone else’s Facebook regarding something you have deep feelings about, but you don’t jump in and comment.

In short, you live in a world of feelings, opinions, thoughts and ideas which are not shared voluntarily and which few people seem to seek out!  What is particularly ironic and grating is that you have learned to be exceptionally sensitive to other people and what they are thinking and feeling, but it is not reciprocated.

So how do you change that scenario when it operates outside you?

For me it was a quite surprising transition.  As a child, I wondered about a lot of things other people did not wonder about, had no answers for, and were quite at peace with not knowing.

(Message to Arthur:  you think weird thoughts).

For example:  I wondered why God used a Roman census to move Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem instead of sending an angel.  None of the spiritual giants who wrote the sundry commentaries available to me ever wondered that, apparently.  I know.  I checked.

(Message to Arthur:  you think really weird theological thoughts.  Quit it and get a life).

But one day decades later as I was flying from London to Newcastle, God spoke and explained why He did that.  It was a fascinating discovery!

That was the beginning of God answering questions I had wondered about that others didn’t wonder about.  Sometimes He would bring me someone who would offer up some tidbit of information I wanted.  Other times He would take me to Scripture and show the answer.  And sometimes, He would just tell me!

I loved receiving the data, but never connected the critical dots for years.  Eventually God pointed out that He was not just serving as my cosmic reference librarian.  Rather He ENJOYED the ramblings of my brain!  He enjoyed listening to what I was pondering while waiting in line for the airplane (which had nothing to do with the airport or its environs).

That was a milestone day.

God was not humoring me.

God was not just resourcing me for Kingdom ventures.

God was enjoying me AND my thoughts!


I pondered why He would enjoy my questions which seem to irritate other people.  Suddenly the picture was clear.  I thought those thoughts and asked those questions because He wired me to!  My questions originated with Him!  Of course He would enjoy them.

Something huge shifted in me that day but I want to make a fine distinction here.

People are broadly self-absorbed.  Most people like me for what I can help them with and they don’t generally take the time to  know me as a person.  I am their encyclopedia.  And that has not changed.  We Americans are not the most sensitive, outward focused, community oriented people.  Simple reality.

HOWEVER, after that encounter with God, I have found that I have permission internally to express my wishes.  Whether it is asking for extra blue cheese on the side or letting my host know that there is no soap in the bathroom, it is easier.

Also of note, is that with the exception of the occasional perennially rude service person, I am broadly accepted when I share my wishes or needs — I am not seen as rude or demanding (I think, anyway!).

Copyright November 2011 by Arthur Burk

From the Quarterdeck, in Anaheim after five hard days of grinding on this one little blog.  Grrr . . .

This entry was posted in Daughters, Spiritual Growth. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Being Placed in Your Office Part 6

  1. J. David Muray says:

    Well what a post.
    As I have read this whole series of essays it has rang home is so many ways, and though it has been about daughters it has been so very relevant to where I have been and to where I am going.
    The message of nonperson hood is one that was ground into me early and from every side. The players were virtually everyone I knew and came into contact with. Out of respect to those both living and dead I will give no details, but suffice it to say it came from parents, siblings, friends(?), teachers, fellow students, coaches, church members, church leadership, and as a youngster it seemed to me from God himself. That was just as a child and when I became an adult it expanded. The new list now included employers, bosses, coworkers, and about everyone else that I interfaced with. I was twenty seven before that I went out on a date. It seemed that to everyone I was only a nameless servant whose sole function was to serve. When my needs were meet, it was only so that I would be better equipped or positioned to meet the needs of others. Wants and desires were only dangerous feelings and thoughts and must at all costs be reasoned away.
    But….. as I look back I can also see that hand of God leading me and teaching me. In time I had of necessity found my sense of self-worth to come from God and God alone. It seems so strange to most that in all of this that the scripture is for real when it reads in 1st Timothy 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
    That does not mean that God was content to let me remain the way that I was though. No; he had other plans for me look at Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

    Arthur as you have spoke of thinking weird thoughts and asking questions that are rejected as unworthy of a response I understand that experance full well. And one of the most startling events in my life is when I realized that not only had God himself had answered one of my weird questions but that he took pleasure in my asking so that he could answer me. In the movie “Chariots of Fire” we find Eric Liddell telling his sister how that when he was running that he felt God’s pleasure, because God had created him to run fast. And so I begin to experience God’s pleasure in the two of us exchanging questions and answers. His questions of me were not to receive knowledge or experience from me, but stimulate me to explore things that most people find weird. But God’s pleasure that I experience as I find the hidden things of God in people and nature is incredible. Proverbs 25:2 “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.”

    Sometimes he is just plain good to me. One evening I had asked the Lord why the story of the prodigal son was so painful to me. A few mornings later I just crawled out of bed and was still trying to shake the drowsy fog out of my head, when God gave me a movie. I won’t call it a vision it was more like a movie, one of those epic movies that is in four or five, two hour segments. It was the story of not only the prodigal son but the story of the family, the family dynamics, the desires, ambitions, and dreams of the father, the mother, and the boys. The time span covered was from when the sons were toddlers to well past the younger sons return to the family. All of this was “seen” in the time span of minutes. It spoke to me not only of the family, but of God’s heart for each of the players.
    Well I did not doubt that God had spoken to me but how biblically or historically accurate was it really? Well no surprise but every detail that I recalled and have researched is dead on. But the real question in my mind for a time was why I had experienced the movie. Was it to provide me with some insight that would be of value to someone else? Or was it to…..????
    Well would you believe that God enjoys watching a movie with me? I do.
    That is not to say that the movie has not been a gold mine to me. It has provided understanding of a host of different things; and about my skewed views of my earthly father, my eternal father, myself and others; my purpose, calling and so many other applications.
    But the most important thing: My God takes pleasure in his handiwork. Even if in our woundedness we cannot experience the pleasure in concert with him it makes it no less real.

  2. ChristieBe says:


    You may want to consider the following (if you haven’t already):

    1. Is it possible that (at some point in your life) you found a sense of validation by way of performing for others/achieving their objectives? Did you place boundaries on your time so that you could develop yourself and not just advance someone else’s cause? Also, just because you can help, it doesn’t mean you always should. Sometimes people need to be encouraged to go outside of their usual methods when seeking answers. Otherwise, you end up giving and giving and getting exhaused while they end up taking you for granted. You have to use your gifts wisely, not necessarily widely. Yes, you will be accused of selfishness at times but why should you care? A real friend will respect your boundaries.
    2. Were all of these people attached to some institution/church group whereby any social activity had to have some major agenda attached to it? If so, then yes, the friendship would most likely have been second to the agenda.
    3. Rejection: Is it all rejection? Friendships that fade away through changing circumstances are not the same as someone actively ignoring/rejecting you.

    Hope this helps a bit.

  3. Gayle says:

    I too was once in that place of always feeling insignificant, but the more I experience Father’s love, I find myself swinging the opposite way-sharing my thoughts, opinions too much. It is like I was silent for so long that I need to relearn to guard my tongue and wait to be asked to share instead of just jumping out there. I don’t want to be a person who feels they always have to share their thoughts. I want to share them where they will truly bring insight or value. I am not there yet, as I find myself often talking to much. I need to get back to listening.

  4. Patricia says:

    The Roman census was to locate the event in secular time and history. Dr. Floyd N. Jones wondered and expressed this thought.

  5. LorieP says:

    You ask questions like I do only I haven’t stood around long enough to find the answers. Just since I have ‘met’ you, have I been able to think that an answer would eventually come and my questions aren’t so off the wall. That is just between God and me though – not out loud. Thanks for walking me into personhood this last year and now I plan to ask for real sugar instead of just using what is on the table.

  6. Olivia says:


  7. charlotte mcmillen says:

    Your most endearing quality is your perseverance! I appreciate how much your thoughts and intellect go into “discovery”–but more than that I admire your “spiritual journey” into the face of God. May your heart increase in the Love of God and Christ’s perseverance.
    I continue to pray for favor; secure borders; supernatural strategies for victory; time to develop your finest abilities; accrued capital in monies and relationships; life-giving family unit; and joy in fulfillment of purpose for you and your family and staff!
    Love from a pure heart fervently Charlotte.

  8. Joyful says:

    There was so little permission to even “be” in my early years that I didn’t even know what my favorite color was until around age 30. Father God has been so patient in unwrapping the heart He created in me over the ensuing years. Now I am so attuned to many of the things He set my heart to value that I often find myself locking on and drinking deeply! How wonderful to be this alive.

    And yet it feels surreal at times. I look so normal on the outside. But as I get to know the multi-faceted spiritual being that He designed me to be, I am fairly sure I’m part of the same wild tribe as you are Arthur. And what a relief to be affirmed simply by your openness in sharing how wonky it gets for you at times.

    May your tribe increase!

  9. Mary-Anne Simpson says:

    So are you going to share why God used a Roman census, do we have to ask ourselves 🙂
    Mostimes when you post a blog that has been gruelling to write it has the most impact as it comes from deep within you where past experieice (own and observed) lies and it is painful or difficult to relive. But those are the blogs that ring true wih such deep notes tha carry healing. I appreciate that you put yourself in tha space to provide people with the tools and the healing they need to become the them they are supposed to be. Thank-you.

  10. Mike says:

    Hi Arthur, For the past two years I have been following your perambulations through the Kings garden to the extent that I have bought about twenty of your albums, attended all your sessions here in RSA Gauteng and have been avidly following your blogs. Almost all of your material has resonated with my spirit and that which has not I have parked on the assumption that The Lord will reveal what relevance it has in due season. Much of what you have shared has now become fundamental to my Christian walk and ministry and is bearing fruit to a degree that has hugely validated my calling.
    But this blog is for me the most meaningful so far. I too have a massively inquiring mind honed by a ten year education under Jesuit priests. Having survived the physical and sexual abuse meted out to me by various ‘priests’ and having been magnificently reconciled to and healed by my REAL FATHER I have been left with a serious skepticism for proclaimed theologians but a great hunger for Gods truth. (I once had a vision in which The Lord showed me a group of men dressed in clerical garb who had walked in to a bramble bush thicket and who were all arguing madly with one another about whose fault it was. The Lord said “Avoid theologians. They always arguing about which thorn to unhook first when all i want them to do is recognize the wrong turn, shed the old garment snagged in the bush and get back on to the road!”).
    What makes this blog so meaningful is 1) It confirms something I have intuitively known for many years about what drives some people to become ‘invisible’, but 2) It highlighted a mild frustration I have experienced in my ‘relationship’ with you. I DID try to move in to a non encyclopedic relationship with you, to the extent that after working through five or six of your albums and having had a couple of conversations with Neill, I wrote to you about two years ago sharing my dream of seeing Africa healed of the hurts of her past, Africa justly governed by her own people and Africa maximizing her economic potential and was very gently rebuffed. I then tried to see you here in Gauteng, particularly after you shared your perspective on South Africa. Efficient gate keeping and press of people kept me from getting to you. Given the impact of your material and teaching and its relevance to us in Africa right now, I found this quite strange. Now don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with what has transpired and am not in the least offended BUT The King has confirmed my mission to Africa, my ministry has been recognized by men and women of authority in the Body and i am at present launching THE AFRICAN LIFE GIVERS MOVEMENT whose purpose is “To motivate, inspire and equip Gods Lions of Africa to become prosperous, fear free, hope filled, passionate, pro-active life giving builders of Gods African Dream”
    I am more than happy to tap in to your encyclopedic anointing as resources allow but would love to have a more specific strategic input. Interested? Cheers, Mike

    • Julia A says:

      Mike, I just want to encourage you and say that while it is very frustrating when you can not get through to a person who might have some insight you could use, according to my previous experience of walking with the King He is very faithful in equipping and providing his subjects for the work He has called them to do. Even if Arthur does not presently have time to engage in this project you can always count on the King to provide resources elsewhere- the challenge for you is to learn to see what He has provided and appropriate it.

      • Julia A says:

        I forgot to add- a payoff of investing time and effort in learning to see the resources and strategy our King provides is a greater intimacy with Him and that, I personally, would not trade for even 27/7 unrestricted access to Arthur or any other spiritual giant.

  11. Shirley says:

    You were certainly talking about me here. I think we have some background in common and it helps to know I am not the only one. My father was a rageaholic pastor. I was expected to fix that or else put on a very good show to the outside world to cover it up. I am so healed I think but I still find that people look to me to have answers to their problems and never think that I might also have unfulfilled needs and desires. Thankfully Jesus does and like you He has answered so many of my questions and met my desires in beautiful ways that are so private and precious I could not even tell anyone else. Thanks for reminding me to keep growing in being able to ask for what I need. I’m better but still have a hard time doing and still feel a bit guilty when I do even though I know I shouldn’t. I didn’t relate this to my childhood this was so I want to thank you. I’m sure as I ponder and pray through this it will bring me more freedom.

  12. Tanya Dwyer says:

    So, why did God use a Roman census? : )

    • Arthur Burk says:

      Tanya, it wasn’t all about Joseph and Mary. On the night Jesus was born, an enormous percentage of the human population was on the land that their families had been assigned by God! We can only imagine the spiritual dynamics created by that proper alignment of people and land!

      • Tanya Dwyer says:

        What you bring to the table is incredible, Arthur.
        I meant this as a joke. Because your essence does matter more. And look what you did- you got past it and offered more of God’s amazing truth!
        Thanks for letting us see you, and share your journey. You are a priceless gem!

        • Joy says:

          Thanks for asking the question, Tanya. And thanks for answering it, Arthur. I was wondering what the answer was too and really appreciate hearing the answer and getting that ‘ahhh!!’ moment! I love the way your mind thinks, Arthur.

  13. Rosa says:

    You might think weird thoughts,but seriously,I wish I could think a smidgen as analytically as you do. I will have to read this about six times till it sinks in…and figure out where to go with it. Spaghetti brain,thats me.Thanks for persevering with the post. Good stuff.

  14. S. Stevens says:

    Thank you

  15. Christina says:

    I wonder how you deal with feeling ‘used’. As an example, people will call me because they need me to do something, they want to use my gifts, etc… However, once they are done, it seems like they don’t talk to me anymore – there is no relationship (even though I thought there was). I feel used, I don’t feel loved for who I am but for what I can do. It seems to be a pattern in my life along with being rejected. Have you experienced that?

  16. Kerrie says:

    Thank you, Arthur, your story really affected me. I apreciate your sharing and grinding…

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