Over the past fifteen years, who I am as a pastor has changed.
I call it the tale of two pastors. In version one, I started relying on myself while simultaneously looking to others for the validation I needed. I forgot who I was.
Ministry can be a dangerous place when you forget who you are.
When you forget your identity, you feel like you’ll never measure up…or you think you’re more important than you really are. And that opens you up to temptation, distraction, pride, inadequacy, and the need for validation from outside sources.
For some reason, it can be hard for us as pastors to remain firmly planted in the identity Christ has given us. And our enemy doesn’t make it any easier.
The Bible doesn’t call Satan the “father of greed” or the “father of lust.” Satan is the father of lies. His number one weapon is to convince you that you aren’t who God has made you to be.
You can’t fulfill God’s calling.
You can’t lead your family.
Your identity comes from what you do.
You’re a terrible husband.
You’ll never be a great mom.
You’re too sinful to lead a church.
You don’t have what it takes.
The danger is this: A lie believed as truth affects your life as though it’s true.
We cannot let the lies of Satan determine our identity.
Here’s a reminder of who you are:
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Romans 8:15-17 NASB
Early in ministry I hit rock bottom, and I began reading this verse and a few others over my life every day. I read and reread them every day for eighteen months, and one day, something changed. I can see it clearly even now: I was in a parking lot loading some lumber into a truck, and I sensed the voice of God in my heart say, “I love you.”
It didn’t sink in the first time.
“Chris, I love you.”
And it hit me. I realized that I was enough just as I was—there was nothing I could do that would make God love me more, and there was nothing I could do to make Him love me less either.
That realization brought my life into alignment. I became a new kind of pastor. Ministry became about serving people. Loving them just like God loves me.
Leadership means loving people. To do that, we must first understand how deeply and perfectly God loves us.
So, if you’ve lost track of who you are, if you’ve drifted in ministry, if you’ve been relying on your own strengths or shrinking from your own deficiencies—if you’ve believed any of Satan’s lies, remember who Jesus says you are. And if you need to come back to center on an issue, repent.
Your Identity in Christ
You are sons and daughters of the King. That’s an irrevocable reality of your identity. Your identity—as a pastor, as a spouse, as a parent, as a person—was settled at the cross.
Here are a few more verses you can speak over your life, your family, and your ministry. And I’d encourage to do just that: speak them. Out loud. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. When you speak God’s Word aloud, you’re declaring war. You are directly engaging the “father of lies” with the sword of the Spirit.
Keep the discussion going with you team or in the Life.Church Open Network community with these questions:
- What was a time in your life that you felt wholly loved by God?
- What lie of Satan are you believing about your life or your ministry?
- What truth from God’s Word combats that lie?
- What can you do to earn God’s love? (Trick question – but try to answer it, it can reveal what you’re not trusting God with.)
- Discuss the difference between a spirit of slavery and a spirit of adoption.
A special thanks to Chris Beall for this post. Chris is the campus pastor at the Life.Church Oklahoma City location, and he also leads the cluster of campuses in his region.
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