Let me predict that this post will disappoint of few of you who want straightforward bible devotions when I post. Most of the time I awake in the early morning and pray/read/blog and the finished product is what you read right here each day that I post. Today is different because I’m writing it at 2:10 PM on a Thursday (yesterday) after being prevented from being online for several days by technical issues at the office at church. I’ve spent some of the day thinking about something that may come off to you as mindless secularism and pop psychology 101. Today, picture me with a bald head and bushy moustache speaking in a Texas twang. Yes, it’s the monstrous blending of Pastor Jeff and Dr. Phil and this is what I want to say:
You cannot joyfully glorify God with your life until you become content with who you are and who you ain’t.
Okay, I said it. This post takes the secular “I gotta be me!” mantra and fuses it with some biblical validity. Coming off of a month of soul searching and life prioritization, I arrived at the painful conclusion that I had fallen into the common trap of many pastors; anticipating people’s negative responses to my proactive, decisive leadership led me down a path wherein I forsook solid footing. Overthinking things had led me to not make decisions I should have been making and, in the end, I became the fuzzy follower instead of the committed captain in the context of the ministry entrusted to me. Getting good counsel from multiple sources is a beneficial thing but, if your sources don’t agree with one another, the leader has to prayerfully arrive at a Spirit-led conclusion on matters. Once upon a time this process came easily to me and I had years of fruitful results from seeking God, discerning the seasons, assessing the need, planning and then acting decisively. Then something happened over a period of about 18-24 months a few years ago. I experienced misunderstandings from those close to me, resistance from those who were becoming skeptical of my vision’s direction, rebellion from those who were positioned to follow my leadership, and, finally, some accusation which felt like a few kicks in the gut from people I was seeking to help. The natural result is to begin second guessing (passive response) or forcing the issues (aggressive response) and, ultimately, I found myself wondering if I was the good guy that I thought I had always been as a pastor or the bad guy that I was being accused of being from a small handful who were upset with me. Regrettably, I lost my bearings and went into safety mode. I quit operating in my strengths because those very things were the points of misunderstanding from those who were upset. For a season, I forgot who I was- whom God had made me. Like many before me, I started living life to prevent being misunderstood and maligned instead of sucking it up and moving in the God-appointed direction regardless of the stone throwing. After a while, I was looking backwards while trying to move forward and it worked about as well as driving down I-85 while never taking your eyes off the rear-view mirror. A crash was certainly coming. Graciously, God intervened and allowed me to take 20 days off from my schedule and duties and I was blessed to get reacquainted with who I am…that is, who God has made me to be.
You, like I, must learn to embrace ultimate identity in Christ. We also must be convinced of who we are not in Christ. Some close to you expect you to be something other than the person God has designed you to be and this is a mammoth crossroads for the Christian. Their intentions are not evil because they assume that their plans for your life will not only please them but will also afford you a fair amount of happiness. Parents, friends, spouses, children, spiritual leaders and even those who oppose you are convinced that you need to be as they would have you to be. Sometimes they are correct about needs in your life. Sometimes they could not be more wrong and, when they are, you are not obligated to give what they say a second thought. Ultimately, it really doesn’t matter what they desire or declare on your behalf because we servants only have one Master to please. Let me say it again: you have to be you to joyfully glorify God and there is an untapped wealth of grace from Him to ensure you experience this. My blog space for today is gone and I’ve not told you one thing to get you started in this process of discovering God’s desire for who you are to be. At the very least I hope I’ve planted a seed in the hearts of those who are weary of trying to please others all the time. This issue is far more about identity in Christ than activity for Christ. He has primarily created you to be, not to do. What you do is a result of who you are and, if you have no clarity about who you are in Him, you will miss the gracious privilege of enjoying what you are to be doing with your life. Perhaps what I’m telling you is that God does desire you to be fully free from the unreasonable or ignorant expectations of others. This is not permission to live in cavalier dismissiveness of other people, rather, I’m simply saying that they should busy themselves with finding out who they are to be instead of inspecting who you are becoming. I hope to write more about this in days to come so ponder with me what I’ve written today.
Do you know who you are in Christ? If not, are you willing to live any longer without this understanding? He made you uniquely for His glory and only when you embrace what He has made will the fulness of joy for you arrive. Be there when it happens.
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