People are always looking for a silver bullet, for that one thing that will guarantee success. It doesn’t matter if it’s in business, your spiritual life or finding a date, someone is out there willing to sell you on the five steps it takes to get where you want to go.
I’m one of those people. I want to sell you a silver bullet.
It won’t help you lose those 20 pounds (quit blaming it on the camera and go to the gym, people!) and it won’t help you find your future spouse (if you want a laugh, check this out), but I guarantee you that if you do this one thing, you will:
- live a life of purpose
- have a family that loves and respects you
- build a legacy that stretches well past your lifetime.
It’s not even a five-step program. Just one thing will get you where you want to go.
So, what’s my secret?
Cultivating your identity.
Not what you expected? That’s not surprising.
Maybe you wanted a more spiritual answer… like prayer or fasting or faith. Those are all extremely important, but the reality is, unless you cultivate your identity, what you pray and why you fast and how you release your faith, will be misdirected.
Before you can go into battle, you’ve got to understand your identity – what it is, where it comes from and the shape-shifting nature it possesses. To understand your identity, you must first understand yourself.
Many of you will read that and think, “Got it, now let’s get going. There’s a world to conquer!”
If you’re over thirty-five, you are DEFINITELY thinking this.
I submit to you that who you think you are, may not be the real YOU.
Can You Trust What You Know?
Then something happened.
The enemy begins to plant his own crop of seeds. Side by side with your purpose, your gifts and abilities, he has sown fear, self-pity, words of judgment and a whole host of other things designed to choke out the purpose that God created you for.
By the time you hit your twenties and are ready to begin to define your life, your identity has been severely altered by the world you have interacted with. Some of us have had people that pulled that destiny forward in our lives; all of us have experienced a diminishing in our identity brought on by the words and actions of others.
By the time you hit forty, you are pretty confident in your self-knowledge. But what if you’ve just spent forty years adjusting to a lie? Is this who you really are, or what life has caused you to become?
That’s a scary thought.
And it’s not just about the external influences in your life. Pride and self-exaltation will mess you up in a heartbeat, creating a life full of glossy reflections of you and little real impact.
So, we’ve established that your identity is constantly evolving, shifted by the company you keep, the voices you allow in your head, and the care and nurturing you give it.. The seed of potential within you is just that… a seed of possibility. The only way those seeds will reach their full potential is by spending time doing the inner work of cultivation.
So how do you cultivate your identity?
- Ask God to show you the lies you have accepted as truth: Deep down, what do you really believe about yourself? What’s the source of that belief? When did it become truth to you? This takes some soul-searching, but if you are diligent, you will be amazed at what you find.
- Ask Him to begin to reveal the true you: You were not made to shrink back in fear. You are not what they said you are. Remember, when someone is measuring your worth, they are using themselves as the ruler. Stripping away what’s false can be intimidating, but don’t let fear keep you in a box.
- Don’t neglect identity for calling: Remember, He is the source. If you neglect your connection to Him, you will lose sight of who you are and Kingdom building becomes incredibly dangerous. You stop building His Kingdom and start building your own. Friends, we need to understand that no matter how noble the cause, if ego is driving our pursuits, we are creating a tainted legacy.
Too many people have built the Kingdom in the name of themselves. They didn’t start with that intention. Very few people do. But something good can turn very ugly over time. I have seen far too many leaders sacrifice their families, their ministries and the people they lead on the altar of ego, all the while thinking they were making an offering to God.
Don’t let that be you. As you pursue your destiny and run into the dark places of the world, remember that your identity is fluid. If you don’t guard it, it will shift into something with the potential to destroy you.
In my next few posts I’m going to spend some time on this, because it is crucial that you BUILD and MAINTAIN a proper identity. If you don’t, you have greater potential to damage the Kingdom than to build it.
In my next post, I’ll be talking about what your view on failure reveals about the state of your identity.
I would love to hear from you. What battles have you fought over your identity? What has helped you to successfully develop your identity?