What makes someone a “deep” person?

How many deep people have you known in your life? For most of my adult life I’ve wanted to be deep, but i didn’t really know what it was.

In college, I thought it meant saying things that sounded smart at parties to people who were drunk.

After college, I thought it meant writing things that were self deprecating and introspective, or talking about God or philosophy at a bar in Manhattan until 2 in the morning.

Obviously those aren’t the marks of a deep person. Those are the marks of someone who likes hearing the sound of their own voice.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned a little more about what it means to be deep. And while I don’t embody any of it particularly well, it has served to focus my energy and attention, and given me something concrete to aspire to.

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Psalms 1:1-3

Deep people meditate on what matters most

Deep people know what matters to them. Underneath their job or their friendships or their hobbies lie their values – the things that are most important to them.

Deep people don’t just arrive at these values willy nilly. They don’t simply regurgitate what their parents or their professor or their pastor or some author says, although they do consider their advice.

Deep people earnestly try to understand how the world works, and carefully consider how they orient live their lives in light of that reality.

Deep people are clear on their non-negotiables. They plant themselves next to the water rather than moving with the current. They train themselves to filter decisions and actions through their values. They earn respect and a reputation for integrity because their decisions are consistent.

Deep people are not distracted

Deep people know what they’re trying to do. They don’t let the opinions of others get to them. Their values, and not the changing whims of the crowd, dictate their goals and their steps.

Deep people take council, but are picky about who they listen to. They recognize that the world is full of people who will, with the best of intentions, suggest courses of action that will steer them from their goals and undermine their values.

Deep people ignore scoffers. They know that if they’re doing something worthwhile they will get ridiculed and insulted. They realize that just because someone is loud doesn’t mean they are right.

Deep people understand that life isn’t usually about deciding between good things and bad things, but between good things and best things.

Deep people cultivate strong roots

Deep people cultivate roots that serve them in good times and bad. When success comes their way, they remain grounded and humble. They know that their success is the result of hard work, and are proud of their achievements. But they don’t cling to them – they recognize that their achievements are not who they are, and they aren’t a substitute for their character.

Deep people also know that when adversity comes, they won’t be shaken. Their roots go deep and keep them from being tossed this way and that. Even though the world around them may be crumbling, they have an underground reservoir of strength to draw from.

Deep people communicate confidence and maturity because they can handle problems. They don’t pout or rationalize or give up when things don’t go their way.

Deep people are able to share in other people’s burdens. When friends and loved ones with shallow roots encounter suffering or trouble, deep people are able to provide wise council. They know the right word to say at the right time, know when to admonish and when to build up.

Deep people understand that life has seasons

Deep people recognize that they won’t always be “yielding fruit”. They have seasons in their lives. Daily seasons, weekly seasons, monthly seasons, annual seasons.

Deep people have learned how to deliberately order their lives in a way that recognizes their seasons. They know when to engage in activity and when to rest. They know when they can be available to others and when they should be alone. They are fully present at work but understand when it’s time to put work down.

Are you deep?

Deep people certainly embody more than these traits, but they do not embody less.

Let us resolve to become deep people. People rooted in our values, who live lives consistent with what we believe. People who remain grounded and peaceful in good times and bad. People who can be counted on for advice, encouragement or wisdom.

To be people whose leaves does not wither.