What’s in Your Buckets?

What’s in Your Buckets?

We all have buckets that we need to have filled. When they are full, we feel satisfied, and life seems good. Living with emotional intelligence is knowing what’s in your own buckets and understanding what’s in other people’s buckets.

I am not talking about your “bucket list” or the things you want to accomplish or see in your lifetime. I am speaking about something more central to who we are. I am speaking about your identity—who you are.

It is who we are at the core that defines us. SDI helps us to understand our motivations, intentions, and behavior. But there is something even deeper than SDI that can help you learn about yourself. Let me show you something truly amazing.

The SDI Triangle corresponds to the three passions of the soul as identified by historic Christian leaders: significance, security, and acceptance. We are all asking three questions deep inside.

1. Am I significant? This question has to do with my value. “Do I matter to anyone? Am I invisible?” This question relates to the RED part of the triangle. RED strives for meaning and purpose. We want to make a difference, to feel significant. We do this through accomplishment.

2. Am I safe? This question has to do with security. Keeping life in order and predictable is important. Planning for the future with precision is how we stay safe. This question relates to the GREEN part of the triangle.

3. Am I accepted? This question has to do with how others see me and include me. We have a need to be received by others. “If I were fully known by others, would they accept me? Does anyone care?” This question relates to the BLUE part of the triangle. Acceptance is about intimacy and being known.

Emotional intelligence requires us to know what buckets we are trying to fill, because that impacts our motivations and behaviors. Before the Fall, when sin entered the world, our buckets were completely filled by our Creator. Our needs (buckets) were completely met by God. Life was good in the Garden.

God created man in His own image and breathed life into him. He made him like Himself, with will, emotion, and personhood. He gave him purpose and meaning by calling him to care for the creation and have dominion over it.

Man had significant work to do because God created him and gave him purpose. God gave him significance. His significance was to live a life of worship of his Creator in the Garden. The Garden was a place where God maintained harmony and peace. Shalom was there. Man was secure in God. He had everything he needed provided for him. Man was fully known by God and was accepted.

God’s first words after creating man were, “This is very good.” Man enjoyed a relationship of love and intimacy with God. They walked daily in the garden together. They didn’t doubt that God accepted them. They were “known” by God.

But after the Fall, everything changed. Sin corrupted the identity of man. Their buckets that were full were dumped and emptied.

More happened than just the punishment of “death.” The core of who we are was corrupted.

1. Significance: Our value became something that we strive after rather than receive from God. The woman would now seek to dominate the man. Her significance was now tied up with how her husband related to her. She would compete for significance. The man soon was competing with his brother for significance and murdered because he was jealous. Significance wasn’t tied to being a worshiper but to accomplishment.

2. Security: They had to leave the garden of safety where everything was provided for them. The creation itself would threaten their security. Weeds would grow, and animals would attack. Security was something we would strive for, rather than something that was provided.

3. Acceptance: They hid themselves. Shame and guilt defined how they would relate to others and to God. Now they were concerned with how they would be perceived by others. Before this time, there was no need to hide behind a mask or present a false self.

If you can, picture these three needs as buckets that, when full, make up our identities. Before the Fall, God filled those buckets to the brim. They didn’t need anything else to fill them. Out of that filling (identity), they were able to live for the sake of others (creation mandate). This was the abundant life.

After the Fall, those buckets were empty. What would fill those buckets? They would seek to fill them with things other than God Himself.

The gospel of Jesus Christ restores everything that was lost in the Fall. We are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old is gone. The new has come. Our identity is now in Christ, which means that our significance, security, and acceptance are all in Christ, and we no longer have to strive after them. We are free.

Free indeed. Living this truth out is the process of discipleship where we learn to walk in our freedom.

What is in your buckets? If you want to process these questions further, I would recommend the book Three Passions of the Soul. It will help you examine what is behind your MVS (color) and how you can be set free.

Bruce Terpstra

Our President, Dr. Bruce Terpstra, has 36 years of pastoral ministry experience. He is a veteran of 17 years in denominational leadership and developed more than 70 new churches in the New York metro area and has given oversight to almost 400 pastors. He holds a doctorate in Leadership Development and is also the founder of 3KeyCoaching and the author of Three Passions of the Soul.