General CBF / Leadership Scholars / women in ministry / young Baptists

The Potter

by Caroline Self

What is it like to live in a world with other people? What is it like to be formed in God’s image? 

Below is a journal entry I wrote three years ago as I reflected on these questions. Afterwards, I share a few reflection questions.

I was created by God, but I’ve been formed by the world. It was God’s breath that breathed life into this clay, but the people around me seem to feel entitled to shape me in whatever way they choose. Take a little bit there, add a little bit here; now, my original form is almost unrecognizable. Not all potters have damaged me. Some have used their own clay to strengthen or beautify mine. But so often, many have decided to tear me apart or break me, sometimes without regard for the state of the figurine they left behind. 

When I was younger, I had absolutely no say in who added clay, who took it away, who rearranged it, or where they put it. But as I’ve grown, I have realized that I have my own hands to shape my clay. Yet, I have to be careful because I am also a potter for the malleable clay figures surrounding me. When I first realized I was a potter, too, I took the lathe and started to form my own clay, but always to recreate the work of another potter. Doing so was almost as dangerous as having other potters shape my clay because I still allowed another potter to determine the form of my clay, leaving both the potter and clay unsatisfied. 

To achieve satisfaction, I know that I must accept help from other trusted potters, allowing them to help my clay take form, while being intentional in my formation of the clay of others. We must remember that all people are both potters and clay. So, be a cautious potter, and a clay that never confuses an imperfect potter with the Potter.

Reflection Questions:

Who are the people in your life who have shaped you the most? 

Have they built you up, or torn you down?

How have you shaped your own life?

Have you ever modeled your life after something and been disappointed?

Have you ever modeled your life after something and been fulfilled? 

In whose lives have you done the most shaping?

Have they been to build others up, or tear them down?

What does it look like to be created by God?

What does it look like to shape yourself like God?

Why is it important to shape ourselves like God?

What are some things we can do to help shape others in our lives?

Caroline Self is a CBF Leadership Scholar and student at McAfee School of theology, and serves at Smoke Rise Baptist Church as the children’s ministry intern. Caroline is originally from Anderson, South Carolina, and graduated from Clemson University.

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