A few years ago, while going through a frustrating situation with my boss, I sought out my dad for some advice. After speaking with him for a little while, he dropped this gem on me: "You know, usually, people are not who they say they are"
One of my biggest frustrations at the time was that coaches, including my boss, would quote John Wooden in public, and talk about how much they valued character on Twitter, and then go and do the exact opposite as they interacted with their players and led their programs. My boss at the time would talk about doing things differently on the court, thinking outside the box, and coming up with solutions, but would always revert back to the things she had always done whenever the pressure hit.
The point that I took away from my dad, was that people aren't who they say they are, people are who they are. Their words and who they HOPE to be doesn't define them, but rather, what they actually DO consistently tells the world who they really are. People may be able to fool us at the beginning, and sometimes, even for a long period of time. But ultimately, all of the quotes and misdirections (intentional or not) will be revealed by the actions of the individual on a consistent basis.
Scripture says, "...By their fruit you will recognize them..." What are they producing matters more than what they are exclaiming.
I'd also like to offer another perspective on this. I agree, that people are usually not who they say they are. In short, THEIR WORDS ARE GREATER THAN THEIR ACTIONS.
And if this is the case, then I believe this applies to us as well, but not always in the same ways as mentioned above. Many times, we have to be sure that our actions align with our words, and make certain that we are not merely talking about who we want to be, but actually being who it is we want to be.
There is another side of the coin, that can be just as damaging, maybe even more so. There are many times, where I believe we find ourselves saying things about us that are untrue, where our ACTIONS ARE GREATER THAN OUR WORDS.
I'm actually a firm believer in this in principle, meaning, I think we should DO more than we SAY, and that we don't necessarily need to talk about the good that we are doing.
However, this becomes a problem when we are living, impacting, and serving in one way, and all the while TELLING OURSELVES something entirely different. It's one thing to lie to the world and ourselves and say that we are great when in fact we are not. But it can be equally as damaging to lie to the world and ourselves and say that we are nothing, or that we are less than, or that we are not adding value, when in fact we are.
For many people, we are not who we say we are, because we are constantly telling ourselves that we aren't smart enough, or strong enough, or good enough, or a good mom, or friend, or coach, or ENOUGH. All the while, the people around us are better because of your presence. They are thankful to have you in their lives, complimenting the work that you do, and better off because of you.
For one reason or another, so often we brush that aside and continue to tell ourselves one thing, while our actions and the fruit that we are bearing say something entirely different. For some reason, some people, feel the need to put themselves down, and somehow supress their gifts and greatness, for fear of success, perceived pride, or an inability to accept that they are doing good things.
I don't believe that if you quote John Wooden and then go about your day as a lazy, uninvested, and low character coach, that you will eventually develop into John Wooden, simply because you read a book and posted something on Twitter.
However, I do believe that the things that we say repeatedly to ourselves can shape us. And despite the good fruit that you may be producing, if you continue to tell yourself that you are something less than you are, you may wake up one day and find that it is true. It is dangerously possible to talk ourselves into believing these falsehoods. Suddenly, you aren't the teacher that you are capable of being because you have told yourself that you are no good. After beating yourself up every day for not being a good enough mom, you start to feel like you aren't a good enough mom, and this reflects in your interactions with your children.
My encouragement is, don't lie to yourself. Ask some people that you know and trust to give you an honest answer on what it is that makes you uniquely you. Ask them to tell you what they think your gifts are, and what you bring to the table that is good for this world. And THEN, listen to them, believe them, and don't brush it off.
Many times we are not who we say we are, we are much, much more.