Defining Identity

Written by: Steve Crowder

From his youth, Steve knew he was called into the ministry which ultimately led him to Applied Life Christian College in Arkansas. Now as Lead Pastor of Highway, after two decades of ministry experience, marriage and raising three kids, Steve teaches with unique insight and practical application.

March 11, 2016

Who are you? That is a question that often haunts us. It causes us to buy things; wear certain clothes; even surround ourselves with specific people. All in the hopes that these peripheral things will help define us. Give us some level of value. Give us identity. I remember turning 16 and rushing to the DMV office with my mom to get a much desired pimple faced mug shot. It felt good to carry around an official ID card. It could identify me in a possible emergency situation, opening a bank account or even came in handy as I sat on the side of the road watching an array of blue and red flashing lights in my rear view mirror (which did happen once or twice). There was nothing better than moving from a mere “permit” to a horizontally displayed plastic watimageser-marked card of permissible freedom. That identity gave me the ability to drive! To be MATURE! To have power at the push of a pedal. Best way I can illustrate how I felt was the scene from the 1979 movie, The Jerk starring Steve Martin who played the character, Navin. There’s a moment in the narrative that he gets the new phone book delivered to him and finds his name! 
“Page 73, Johnson, Navin, R.! I’m somebody now! Millions of people look at this book every day! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity, you’re name in print, that makes people. I’m in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.”

Yes, the feeling of being “Somebody”. We all secretly or shamelessly desire it. To be known. To be appreciated and valuable to the world around us and the people in it. But most of the time for the majority of people, we have fallen victim to a worthless self-assessment. “You’re right, I can’t…” “I’m not good enough”. “I am a failure”. And on we go down the path of self degradation.

The Israelites had a moment very similar that was recorded in the Old Testament book of Numbers for us to read. In chapter 13 we find Moses recruiting leaders from the twelve tribes of Israel and assigning the task of spying out the land of Canaan, the land they were looking to occupy. After 40 days of observing the fortified cities, the enemies military strength, as well as the vast amounts of produce and wealth there, the spies finally concluded that they would NOT be able to conquer Canaan. As grasshopper_istock_000018058286xsmallthey gave what God called, “An evil report”, there is one line that vividly articulated their self perspective: “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” “There we saw the giants…and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” Did you catch that? The identity they had allowed to be formed within theirselves over the decades of slavery in Egypt hindered their advancement and ultimately their success. It didn’t matter in that moment what God had told them because their self worth and limited perspective stopped their forward momentum.

How many moments have we amputated the arm of God as He stretched it out toward us with dream, promises or blessing? How many promotions and advances at work have we missed because we just didn’t think we were good enough? How many opportunities have we not realized because we have failed to see ourselves through the lens of God’s word? So how do you see yourself? Is it through a filter of past failures, empty promises, broken commitments or are you building on the moments you shined? Either way, there’s still more in you than you realize. The answer to our identity issues is not found in ourselves. It is found in Jesus.  Last Sunday at Highway, we talked about identity and purpose and how they are both tied to our spiritual DNA.

Our identity starts with, and depends on, God’s identity. God defines us…at least He wants to! Now, don’t get me wrong, what we do is important, but who we are is even more important. I AM a Crowder. I AM a husband…a father. I AM a believer in the risen son of God, Jesus. I AM patient. I AM confident…full of grace…fun! It has become so important to me that I find my true identity in Christ. He makes me who I am, and out of that existence of “being”, I “do” so many things. So this week, stop building your identity on what you do, but instead focus your attention on being who God says you are. It may make all the difference in how you see yourself.

NEXT STEP: Take time today to write out your identity. “I am…” Fill in the blank.
Knowing who you are & whose you are will define everything about what you do!

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