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Harvard is an amazing place, a true hodgepodge of humanity. Here you find people of every shape and size and color and background and belief. But they all seem to share one common trait. They all seem to be smarter than me. I grew up in a relatively small town in rural New Hampshire so I was used to the “big fish in a small pond” mentality. But now it seems as if I’m in an endless ocean filled with even bigger fish along with some dolphins, whales and, yes, even some sharks.

Now, somewhere in the back of my mind I always knew that I placed a little too much of my identity and self-worth on my intelligence, but back home I saw it as nothing to be clamoring about. I was who I was and that happened to be someone who was relatively good at thinking. It was only when I came to college that I realized that my sense of self-worth was coming from the wrong source. I was placing my self-worth in my own intelligence.

That is in stark contrast to how God says I should be valuing myself. Even Jesus who could have put his sense of worth on how he compares to others didn’t do that. He placed himself completely before the Father and that is what we are called to do. All these things, as Paul has said, we should consider loss that we may know Christ. And loss not in the sense that they are bad in and of themselves but that they keep us from knowing Jesus as we are supposed to know him. For what is Christianity but a relationship of total surrender?

This is what I recognized in the last several weeks. I had not given God his rightful place as Lord of my life and supplier of my worth. Yes, we are all made in the likeness of God and, yes, we have all sinned and fallen short of his glory, but our worth comes from God and who we are in him and not who we are in ourselves. It is an easy claim to write down, but a harder one to live out. It requires surrender of the highest degree. A surrender not in a nominal sense as was the case for me but in an active and practical way. And only then, when we die to ourselves, will we gain the world and attain the truest sense of our worth.

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