Identity Crisis? – For Leaders and Pastors

We live in a society where for most “what we do” defines us. Recently, I saw a poll that showed that over 70% of people find their self worth in their occupation. While this is not necessarily a new trend, I fear it is prevalent in many church leaders…that is not a good thing.

Jimmy Wray (my second born) was hanging with me downtown. While I was talking, he was chillin.

Jimmy Wray (my second born) was hanging with me downtown. While I was talking, he was chillin.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:1-2 ESV)

I am a pastor, preacher, counselor, and psychologist…and thats just the weekends. But are those things really what should define us? Let me explain.

I am a pastor at City Church here in Detroit. This keeps me busy. Most of my day is spent talking and counseling people. I speak and teach multiple times a week. Studying comes with the job and being prepared is a must. Currently, pastoring a church, starting 2 more and another 2 missions…in the next year.

While what we do does allow others to describe us and even judge us…it shouldn’t alone define us.

Here is why, what happens when I’m not a pastor anymore? For most pastors we don’t even think about that day, but the truth is that one day we won’t be able to do what we can do now. If we are only defining ourselves by what we do, then we will be lost when we can’t do it anymore. Identity crisis is real, and not knowing your real purpose and real calling will cause you to go in circles if not a downward spiral.

I have a friend who is not in the ministry anymore. He didn’t quit, but the opportunity to be a pastor slammed shut in his face. Now, here sits a friend of mine on the other side of the phone asking me, what to do with his life? Does he go back to college? Does he even go back to church? He’s hurt and lost.

His identity was wrapped up in his job…not his Jesus.

As a Christian leader, I want to serve Jesus for the rest of my life, but being a pastor is just one of the ways I do that. I must first see my calling as a Christian and a disciple of Christ, not as a pastor and ministry leader.

My first calling is to Jesus. My first love is to God, not to my job or ministry. After my love for Christ comes my family for which I am personally responsible. After that and by after that I mean after all that…then comes ministry.

Keep your priorities straight…Jesus must come first.

My friend is now working a decent job, has his priorities lined up and is growing again in his Christian faith. Don’t confuse what you’re doing with why you’re doing it.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  (Matthew 6:33 ESV)

-jon 

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