ThroughLines: You Do Who You Are

Last week, I made a small yet significant change to our ThroughLines Doc.

The document used to emphasize ThroughLines as actions by using the -ing suffix:

  • Christ-Treasuring
  • Idolatry-Discerning
  • Neighbor-Loving
  • Etc.

But now it emphasizes the person, the character, the doer of the action:

  • Christ-Treasurers
  • Idolatry-Discerners
  • Neighbor-Lovers
  • Etc.

We Do Who We Are

Does the suffix we use matter? I think it does.

It matters because ThroughLines describe the kind of character God is calling and empowering us to be in his Story. ThroughLines aren’t merely actions we engage in periodically, they are the lived responses and habits of a peculiar kind of person, the kind of person who desires God’s Kingdom.

Jeff Vanderstelt says it like this (emphasis added):

We do what we do because of who we are.

You do who you are. Being precedes doing.

God is and God does. And he does what he is. His activity reveals the truth about who he is.

We are inviting our students to imagine themselves living the rest of their lives as creation-enjoyers and order-discoverers and beauty-creators.

A Russian Actor

Remember how the term “through line” originally comes from a Russian actor? According to Wikipedia,

The through line . . . was first suggested by Constantin Stanislavski as a simplified way for actors to think about characterization. He believed actors should not only understand what their character was doing, or trying to do, (their objective) in any given unit, but should also strive to understand the through line which linked these objectives together and thus pushed the character forward through the narrative.

That’s it! We want our students to see that God’s Story is lived and not merely talked about, to see that they have a role to play in God’s Story. We want them to become a peculiar kind of person in every square inch of life.

A simple change of suffixes can help us remember that ThroughLines describe the kind of character God is calling and empowering us to be.

Of course, both suffixes are appropriate, so don’t be afraid to use them both. Beauty-Creators will create beauty, and resource-stewards will steward their resources. “We do what we do because of who we are.”

But the order matters. Getting the order wrong–doing in order to be–can turn the ThroughLines into a burdensome to-do list. Getting the order right–being before doing–reminds us of the good news that who we already are in Christ shapes how we live in Christ. We’re just acting out the miracle in every sphere of life.

Ask Yourself…

How can you help your students to imagine living as beauty-creators, disciple-makers, resource-stewards, or idolatry-discerners this week and for the rest of their lives?

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