Thursday, August 21, 2008

Who Am I? Part 1: Figure It Out

This is the time of year when law firms interview second-year law students for summer associate positions. Firms go to various law schools and someone will "interview" up to 25 people in a day and make decisions about who should get invited back for further interviews. Those initial interviews are usually only 20 minutes long and often run back-to-back with only occasional breaks. It is a pretty artificial situation, but you try to do the best you can to get a sense of whether the person would be good in your firm based on those twenty minutes and whatever it says on a resume.

As we go through this process, those of us who work on the process here (and in countless other law firms around the country) have seen hundreds of resumes. For the most part, they follow a similar pattern - reflecting education, experience and interests. Although I have not prepared one in a long time, my own resume would probably look the same.

While a typical resume serves a purpose - helping to get interviews and a job - you shouldn't confuse your resume with who you are. A resume has to do with what you do, or what you want to do - and that is not necessarily who you are as a person. I often say that one of the things that I really appreciate about my firm is that the lawyers here are not caught up in being lawyers. I think most of us enjoy it (at least most of the time!), but that is not our self-identity.

A friend has suggested that I prepare a "life resume" showing special skills, experiences and background that may have little to nothing to do with what I do as a lawyer. Although I haven't done it, I think it is a healthy exercise to take the time every now and then to look at myself and ask the question. Who am I? In various places, the Bible suggests that we look at ourselves in this way. "Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord." Lamentations 3:40 "A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup." 1 Corinthians 11:30 "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. . . ." 2 Corinthians 13:5

So, who are you? And, who am I? Take the time to think about it and figure it out. I find that my own answer to that question has certainly changed over time. Quite simply, I am a different person now than I was when I was in college, or when I was in law school, or before we had children, or before I went on my first mission trip, or before I went on my most recent mission trip. I believe God works on all of us and shapes and molds us with experiences and events over the course of time. Sometimes I ask God why it took so long to learn something, or took so long to understand - why didn't He show me earlier? I don't have the answer to those questions and may never really know the answer since it is all part of His plan that has been in place since before we were born. But it doesn't stop me from asking.

Anyway, who are you? How would you honestly respond to the comment - Tell me about yourself. Not in the interview context, or even the party context, but in a conversation with the Lord. Try to take the time to figure it out, or at least start to figure it out. I know that I find it important to know the answer for myself, and I think it can help all of us.

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