When I was a child, one of the questions that I was constantly asked by adults was, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I’m not sure why it seemed as though they were more concerned with what I was going to do with my life than I was. Nevertheless, it is a question that we have all been asked as children at one time or another. In essence, the sentiment behind the question is one of purpose. What they were really asking was whether I was aware of what my purpose, my reason for existing in life would be.
What this question truly reveals is that we live in a culture that is driven by what we do in life as opposed to what we are to be. Whenever I meet someone for the first time, one of the first questions I am asked is, “What do you do? It appears that what we do in this life seems to be the litmus test for success rather than who we become as persons. When was the last time you heard someone respond to this question with a simple, “I want to be a godly person or one whose life brings glory to God?” Why are we so obsessed with what we do rather than who we can and should become?
Jesus made it clear to his followers that the main characteristic of what it means to be a disciple is not determined by what we do but by what prompted us to do it in the first place. In Matthew 5:20 Jesus says,
“…unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus’ concern wasn't that his followers practiced “right” behavior as much it was why thy practiced right behavior. If right behavior isn’t the fruit of who we have become as Spirit-filled believers, then it is on the same level of the righteousness of the Pharisees, who were concerned more with “doing” rather than with “being”. It’s like the opening line from one of the scenes of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “To Be or Not to Be.” That is the real question that should concern us as disciples of Jesus Christ as we live to please God.
So, what do you want to “be” when you finally grow up? As for me, my prayer is like that of the Apostle Paul: I want to grow into a disciple whose fruit truly gives evidence of the genuine maturity and character development that has taken place in my life, to where I am finally ready to lay aside my “childish ways.”