By Ryan Shaw
Many of us tend to live much of our lives feeling rejected, unloved, unnoticed and unrecognized by others and even God.
We seek our worth and value in what we accomplish and how many people recognize us and what we’re doing, which will never satisfy the human heart. In our flesh, we want to be known and even famous buying into the lie that this will fill our empty hearts. We compare ourselves with the next person and what he or she is doing for God.
Placing our sense of value and worth upon anything external will always cause us to strive with a wrong spirit before others. We do not accurately assess our value and worth based on God’s standards, instead working hard to “earn” a sense of place in the world of our own devising.
As we buy into this deception, we believe whatever we’re currently doing in serving God is of no value. It’s too small, insignificant, isn’t affecting anybody and is a waste of time. We are tempted to quit and multitudes do, cutting off what might have been.
We miss the opportunity to learn the lessons and grow in spiritual understanding related to what God is doing within us at that time. The seeking of “identity” in what we do for God has sidetracked many from rightly walking the road God has for us.
Simultaneously, it hurts our hearts and hinders our ability to rightly receive our true identity from God – as sons and daughters of Most High God, eternally loved, cherished and cared for with the capacity to return that same love back unto God.
The temptation to quit is possibly one of the greatest schemes of the enemy among Jesus’ followers. At this very moment believers around the world, by the millions, are being assailed with the temptation to quit whatever they are currently doing in serving God.
God’s desire is to get us to the place of never measuring ourselves by external measuring sticks. Our identities are not in what we do for God but according to the lavish love He has provided and we have chosen to reciprocate back to Him. We are His and He is ours. This identity was enough for Jesus and it will similarly meet the needs of our hearts as well.
The same staggering love which the Father has for Jesus He has for each of us who have chosen to follow His Son (John 17:20-23). This makes us of eternal value and worth to God, even if we never accomplished anything for Him on this earth.
He wants us to feel this truth deep inside and not simply believe it doctrinally. God is ready to touch us in this way as we ask Him.
Experiencing our identity in Him enables us to stop striving to obtain a sense of value and worth through external standards. It frees us to be faithful and obedient to Him even if it feels like we’re not influencing anyone.
I am convinced a core factor of much of the burnout we see in vocational ministry and mission roots back to this issue of misplaced identity. Burnout is the result of overwork done in the wrong spirit and with wrong motivation.
Often this is produced by seeking to fill our lives with a sense of value from the outside. Working hard is part of God’s will.
Yet we are to do so from an identity rooted in Christ and not what we do for Him. This keeps us from a driven-ness in our work motivated by trying to fill a void within.