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This is a term that has meant a great deal to me in 2015. It is a term that helps us define where we end and where everyone and everything else begins. When we let people or circumstances define our emotions we have problems with self-differentiation. It is important to not let others steal your joy. It is important to not allow others to push your buttons. Only you dictate and decide how you feel. This is the path to not only emotional maturity but also identity that is not rooted in the opinions of others.

These are hard lessons to learn, especially for a minister. Ministers loved to be accepted by others and are often very tempted to be defined by how others see them and value them. That can lead to some real problems and a great difficulty in feeling worthy without performing to a certain level. It is toxic and I am learning how to detect it in my own life.

At the same time, community is important and what people think and feel should be important to us. We just cannot deify those things to being an idol in our lives. We also cannot allow those things to dictate our feelings and/or control our thoughts.

Maybe you struggle with this too. If you do, you might want to do some soul searching on self-differentiation. It has been a great blessing to me and maybe it will be for you as well.

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