A Truly Successful Identity
It was made more clear to me recently just how much of my identity I get from my successes.
"Getting one's identity from" is a phrase we use to describe how someone knows oneself. Who am I? What makes me valuable (if anything)? How do I know I'm living the life I should? What should I feel good about with regard to myself? What should I lament about myself? What should my life aspirations lead me toward? What makes me a person worth knowing?
We can get our identity from all kinds of things. For those who believe in absolute moral truth, they can often try to find their identity in their own "goodness" - how well they live out the moral tenants of whatever faith tradition they hold. The tenets of goodness are X, Y, and Z, and I'm doing pretty well on X and Y, but my Z is kind of weak - yeah, I'm doing pretty well, and I like who I am.
Others can get their identity from their successes (or have their identity shaken by failures). We easily see this in sports or in careers - people evaluating their worth has human beings based on their success-to-failure ratio on the field or in the boardroom.
But it's also possible to get one's identity from success in ministry. Not just the megachurch celebrity pastors, but anyone in ministry in any size church. "Success" could either be something shallow, like attendance or receipts, but it could also be something truly valuable, such as transformed lives. It's still possible to try to get one's identity from the very thing God values in ministry.
And the Lord showed me just how much of my identity I was trying to get out of successes in ministry, and how much of my identity was challenged in the areas where I didn't feel successful.
The way of Jesus is for those who believe in Him to get their identity only from Him and completely from Him. We are made in God's image. In Christ, we are God's beloved children and we can cry out to Him as our Father because we are in His Son. Our worth comes from the fact that God sent His Son to go to the Cross for us.
We know who we are and what our worth is in Jesus alone. No amount of good works will change our worth in God's eyes. No amount of "success" will change our worth in God's economy. No self-help book, no accomplishment, no habit will improve our identity if our identity is found in the Greatest of All.
It is against human nature to find our identity this way, so it takes a transformation of our minds as a living, spiritual sacrifice, rather than conforming our ways of thinking to this world. Gravity will ever pull us toward finding our identity in this kingdom. God's Spirit will ever tell us that our identity is found rightly in the Kingdom of God.