I handed in my resignation and continued my work as a caregiver to Papa. When suddenly I felt lost. A couple of weeks into my new role, I was missing ministry. I was missing being in charge of groups. I was missing the creativity. I was even missing the frustrations and long hours.Church was doing fine without me. I was no longer on the inside track, knowing the ins and outs of the church operations. I had been in youth and education ministries for 20 years-literally since high school. I didn’t know how to act in church and not be on staff. I had been on staff in that particular church for eight years. I knew I was doing the right thing by staying home to care for my husbands grandfather (read last weeks post), but I was empty inside.
To make matters worse, God was nudging me to give up my role as worship leader. I couldn’t imagine giving up that role too. What was God thinking? I felt responsible for the success of that service and I loved leading worship. I knew God had a purpose in having me step down, so I did. It hurt. I felt like a loser. I cried a mountain of tears. What could be the purpose in this?
To be honest, I wanted church to flounder without me. I wanted them to beg me to come back. I wanted them to miss my presence on the staff and in worship as much I was missing them. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was a victim of identity theft. My identity had been stolen at least that was how it felt. My entire being had been wrapped up in ministry. Ugh. That was a painful realization. I cried another mountain of tears.
It was painful because I knew I was called to find my identity in Christ and not a job or a role in life. As Christians we are called to be the light of Christ to the world, knowing that God has a purpose and a plan for our lives. I had drifted far away from that principle. Ministry had become about the accolades, the pats on the back and the jobs well done. It wasn’t about Him. It was about me.
Luke 6:35-36 “I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who has gotten so wrapped up in becoming a parent, spouse or professional that it becomes my identity. Please tell me I’m not the only one who has lost sight of her true identity. I can’t be the only one who has experienced identity theft.
Here are the warning signs that you too have experienced identity theft.
- Any role that you have that takes priority over God
- Any role that you can’t give up because you would be lost without it
- You can’t give up what you’ve created because it won’t succeed without you
- You are more concerned about your glory than His
Today, I can look back and see that God was stripping me of these things to pull me back on course. He was refining me so I can live into His purpose and plan for my life. It was difficult to realize how a small shift in thinking could become a huge shift in my heart and take me so far off course.
Where is your identity? Have you struggled to stay focused on Him? Share your thought and we can encourage each other.