We live in an age where people self-identify themselves with titles. People who never even graduated from college, go by "Dr". In fact, there is hardly anything that can’t be ‘certified’ one way or another, if you’re willing to pay the price. While these may be esteem builders, there is something lost in not making the effort to see a desired result through from start to finish. While going to school, completing degrees, or even on the job experience, does not necessarily qualify you to become an expert; by going through the process you attain things that can be wrought no other way. Things like tenacity, discipline, perseverance, courage, and an inner assurance that if you can "do this", what else "can you do"?
Throughout the scriptures we see evidence of people, just like you and I, who were able to be counted as overcomers. They were able to "come over" obstacles, fears, insurmountable challenges – we read about them to build up our faith. In the book of Acts we see the early church was built, not with a welcome planning committee, but through one hardship after another. The main characters of Acts, while welcome in one city, could face slandering and beating in the next. There was one city that welcomed two of the lead characters, Barnabas and Paul:
Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to find Saul. When he found him he brought him up to Antioch. Then for a whole year they met together with the Church and taught a large crowd. It was in Antioch that the disciples were first given the name of "Christians". Acts 11:25 (PHILLIPS)
Think of it, Antioch was a Greek city, and at the time of this writing was also a huge commercial trading center that was also an important cultural center for the Roman Empire. Yet, this city which was entrenched in Greek mythology and Roman culture, opened its’ arms to the teaching of Paul and Barnabas, to the extent that they were able to stay there for an entire year, teaching them the Way of the Lord. It was here that Paul and Barnabas did not credential themselves, they were credentialed by those in Antioch who they taught, they were "given the name of "Christians".
It is a wonderful thing to prepare one’s life by setting goals and attaining those goals. Scholarly achievement, meritorious job performance, successful marriages and parenting – are all wonderful accomplishments and should be celebrated. Yet, how good it is when we don’t "recognize" ourselves, but others are able to say:
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13 (KJV)