Unless our identity is rooted in Christ, we will always be subject to the pressures of the crowd. We will measure success by performance, or by the things we achieve, or the stuff we own. And we will subtly use people to achieve these ends: people become stepping stones or objects on the road to our achievement. When they don’t fit into our plans, we will attack them, abuse them, or push them aside. This isn’t a good way for leaders to live!
Len Hjalmarson, “#1 Issue in missional shift”
Len’s post reminded me of an exercise in which I explored identity. Years ago, my cousin who was working on his masters degree in Clinical Psychology asked a few of us to write down the top 10 things that we would consider the core of our identity, where 10 was the least and 1 was the most central. After thinking long and hard we each wrote down our 10. After which we proceeded to, from number 10 down, remove each core of our identity and reflect as if it were to never be part of us again. I will never forget reflecting about how devastating it would be to no longer be a husband to my beautiful wife. It was an imagined reality that rocked me to my core.
I will also never forget imagining my life without Jesus. It was a spiritual ‘wake up’ call. It reminded me how central Jesus and following in his footsteps is/was to my identity. It made me reflect on what was important about my faith.
The relational dynamic of our faith is the heartbeat of the gospel. To have a faith void of relationship is to have a faith that is heartbreakingly shallow. In the midst of a kiddy pool like faith, the pressures and other such grittiness of life will begin to shape identity apart from Jesus. All too often our leaders fall prey to seeking identity in that which is not grounded in Jesus. It’s hard. We live in a culture which screams for us to conform based on the desires of ‘the crowd.’ In paying attention to spirituality and spiritual practices we give ourselves the opportunity to be deep within the graceful and redemptive identity of Jesus.
We just need to do it.
What is core to your identity? If you could write a top 10, with number 10 being least core to your identity, and 1 being the most, what would your order look like? Why? What are the spiritual practices that keep you grounded?