We all, in varying degrees, draw a sense of our identity from our accomplishments. We are designed to be productive but the problem is if we become overly dependent on accomplishments to define our identity it creates a performance mentality. A good day at work can put us on top of the world only to be followed the next day by depression and shame when we don’t get that expected promotion. A performance mentality also produces an overt sensitivity to criticism and depression when things don’t go as expected. I spent a good portion of my life striving for accomplishments only to feel let down and disappointed after the temporary high of success faded. It’s a vicious cycle and not a fun way to live.
Discovering The Father’s Approval
I grew up playing sports and received lots of kudos for my abilities. That mentality stayed with me when I entered full time ministry. As a young athlete my measuring rod was home runs and touchdowns but when I entered the ministry my quest was to become the next mega church pastor. This was the standard for success I’d been taught. I would constantly compare my ministry with others and measure myself by how many people came to my church. In either case my identity was attached to my accomplishments. Not good! And here’s a dirty little secret about the performance mentality. Many ministers who do reach the “promised land” of building a big church or ministry are unhappy and feel trapped in a system that sucks the very life out of them. We see it in our pop culture all the time when people have all the fame and fortune you could ask for only to confess to feeling lonely, empty and afraid. It’s a dead end. Our identity needs to be grounded in love as we see ourselves as God sees us, beloved children made in His image! So what turned me around? It began with me wearing myself out trying to fulfill my dream of being a mega church pastor. Honestly I thought it was a good dream, you know, winning souls, making disciples, all the stuff Jesus told us to do. Obviously these goals are all good things and I still feel they are part of my call. The problem was my motivation and I was working out of my own strength. So, fatigued and discouraged, I stepped out of ministry for a season. Actually the Lord forced my hand by closing down the church. Through a series of events we lost our building and couldn’t find another adequate place to meet so we closed shop. My dream was over and I felt like a failure. I had to make a living so I tried real estate with some moderate success. But when the economic meltdown of 2008 hit things fell apart. I was defeated and depressed but the Lord was using all this to begin a detoxification process to wean me off the performance mentality. I eventually ended up working in sales at a motorcycle shop. Through a five and a half year process the Lord showed me I had value and worth outside of the ministry. Next He taught me about provision in ways I had not learned. There are a lot of stories I could tell here but that’s for another time. Bottom line, I was learning to enjoy my relationship with God again outside of “ministry”. Keep in mind through my time as a salesman I still continued to serve, love and witness to my fellow workers. I was bringing the kingdom to the workplace! Just when I was satisfied and didn’t care if I ever got back into full-time ministry the Lord began opening doors that eventually led me back to where I am today. I had learned so much about the love of God on a much deeper level through this season that I was now ready for the finishing touch to this season in my life. And even though I’ve been blessed with many awesome times with God I was about to have my grandest encounter. Love Encounter Being a grandparent is AWESOME! Nothing like it. The joys of parenting without the responsibilities! One day while visiting my grandson who at the time was 2 years old, we locked eyes and I had a heightened awareness of love and affection for him. This went way beyond my normal grandfatherly feelings. It was so tangible I could feel it. So while I’m involved in what seems like an out of body experience and watching myself have these overwhelming affections for my grandson the Lord says to me," This is how I feel about you". I was astonished! I literally responded in my mind, "No way!” Seriously, I couldn’t believe it. It was so out-of-the-box from anything I had ever experienced. Over the next few days the experience gradually began to sink in and then the Lord followed it up with a stunning encore. It came a couple of weeks later when my wife visited our grandson. She came back and told me that he’d had his first temper tantrum. You know those times when your little angel learns the word “NO” and fights you on everything. Well, when I asked her what it was like she paused, thought for a moment and simply said,"It was adorable!” The Father spoke again and said, "On your worst day, even when you're throwing a temper tantrum, I find you adorable". His love for me wasn’t based on my performance but about who I was to Him, an adorable son! I’m telling you we need encounters with Him to solidify our understanding of who He is and how He works. Knowing the love of God is key to understanding your identity. I live with a much greater freedom from anxiety and worry no longer judging myself continuously by how much I’ve accomplished. I rest in His love keenly aware of His affections for me! His love changed how I see myself and consequently how I live. Gone are the days of striving to accomplish goals that leave me empty. No more is my identity tied to unrealistic ambitions but it’s anchored in my heavenly Father’s love and acceptance. I am an adorable child of God! Understanding who God is and who we are in Him is foundational to experiencing a joyful and fruitful life. If you found this blog encouraging and would like more teaching on this subject you can sign up for my video course Keys to Discovering Your Identity. In it I take you through a process that helps you solidify your understanding of your identity in Christ. These teachings, testimonies and practical assignments are designed to help you grow in your knowledge and experience of God. Go to hubbministries.com to start your free course.