Where is my identity found? If I am honest this has been the question I have wrestled with the most these last few months.
In June I resigned from the church I pastored for 11 years to take a new ministry position. I am no longer a pastor of a local congregation and what I have realized is much of my identity had been in my vocation. I was a pastor and I found great meaning and purpose in this calling. When I was no longer a local church pastor I didn’t know who I was in some ways. When almost every waking moment is filled with thinking through sermon for next Sunday, those who are sick and hurting, those who are walking through suffering and grief, and those who just need to know they are not alone for eleven years and then one day that calling for that congregation is no longer yours it has been very disorienting for my own spiritual life.
What I realized is I had found my value, my worth, in being a pastor, in being a part of others lives, in my ministry. I no longer preach three times a week. I am no longer the first person called when someone is sick or in the hospital. I am no longer looked to for spiritual leadership by a congregation and I have been lost because of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe God has called me to this new work. I know God has me in this position to be able to encourage other ministers and to be a voice calling for unity in the middle of division, but I also have felt like I don’t really know who I am in this moment.
Maybe, you feel the same way. Maybe, these last few months where everything has been turned upside down have left you wondering who you are as well, or, you have changed jobs or moved towns and left the place where you knew who you were, the people who helped you know you belonged. What I have found to be true in my own life is that when I feel lost and my spiritual life is lacking it is often because I am struggling with my identity, with who I am.
At the heart of the Gospel is the truth that we are loved. “God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son.” Jesus entered into the chaos and evil of this world that we might see His glory and know His grace.
Our identity is not in what we do, not in the jobs or roles we have, our identity is found in Jesus. In Christ, the Father looks at us and declares, “this is my son, my daughter in whom I am well pleased”, and this is all we need. I belong to Christ, bought with His blood, and welcomed as a part of His family. I know this truth intellectually. The battle is to believe it. The fight is to rest in the truth of who Jesus declares me to be, the reality of my identity in Him.
If you are struggling to remember who you are I hope you know you are not alone. Let’s pray for each other. Let’s encourage one another to remember Jesus doesn’t love us because of what we do. We know He loves us because of what He has done. Your identity is you are loved by Jesus and a child of the King. I am trying to remember this everyday and I pray you remember it too.