A popular topic in Sunday School and Christian conferences.
It is not a topic often talked about in the marketplace though.
When we do talk about spirituality in the marketplace, we talk about God’s provision, reaching the lost or living missional.
The topic of identity is often glossed over – not seen as relevant to what we do from eight-to-five, but rather pushed aside for one’s private devotional life.
The truth of the matter is spiritual identity has everything to do with everything.
Understanding who God created us to be touches every single part of our lives. Especially our work, and if we are leaders – it touches the people we lead.
A leader who is looking for their identity in what they do, the people they lead or the product they produce is a ticking time bomb. This path always leads to disillusionment and burnout.
“Anyone who knows who God made them to be will never try to be someone else.” – Bill Johnson
It is not always as simple as it sounds to accept this though. There are some obstacles that lay between us and this place of freedom.
Restoring Right Relationship
As is the case with most things that get off-track in our relationship with God, the misalignment is on our end – not His.
We must first believe that God is who He says He is, before we can believe we are who He says we are.
If you think about it, the value we place on what is being said often lies in the value of the person saying it.
If a random individual approached me in the grocery store and paid me a compliment, it would be flattering but would not hold a lot of weight. If that individual was known in the community to be a crooked businessman, the compliment would mean even less.
However, if the mayor bestowed a compliment and they were known to be a person of high integrity, this comment would be received differently.
It is the same in our relationship with God. Each of us walk around with our own doubts about God’s character. Not one of us is exempt from this. All of us encounter suffering in a broken world. It is hard to take a look at our lives some days and really trust the goodness of God.
However, the suffering around us does not void out God’s goodness. He is still a good leader when things go sideways in our lives. The more we recognize this, the more value we will see in what He says about us.
There may be areas in your life where you’re believing a lie about God’s character and it is robbing you of receiving the identity He wants to give you.
So, the real question we’re left with is not whether we are loved by God, but whether we can receive His love.
Culture’s Identity vs. Kingdom Identity
In God’s Kingdom our identity is clear.
“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God – you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration – what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” – Psalm 139:14-16
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10
“Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” – Luke 12:7
This is no mistake – there was God-breathed identity on your life before you could even take a breath of your own. If this is true, there is nothing we can do that would add to this.
We can add to spiritual gifts, maturity, talents and skills, but our very identity as sons and daughters is not affected by what we do.
We live in a culture that fuses our identity to what we do. We are told that our identity lies in our gross profit, our amount of social media followers, and even our church attendance.
All of these things can be a result of healthy identity, but they do not create identity itself.
If we search for our identity in these places, we will come up dry every time.
Align Identity, Refine Leadership
So why is all of this so important in the marketplace?
If we are walking around looking to receive our identity from the things we do or the people around us, not only does this hurt us, but in leadership, that hurt will ripple through the people we lead.
We believe all leadership is spiritual. Sometimes that is the Holy Spirit, and sadly, other times it is not. But all leadership is influenced by one spirit or another. Sometimes, it is a spirit of comparison, envy or greed.
If God has charged us to take care of His people, but we are counting on them to tell us who we are, we are not reflecting the Father’s heart to them.
A Kingdom Leader has to be receiving their identity from God, and God alone.
This is not to say we’ll always get it perfect. But when we mess up, we recognize it and realign ourselves with who God says we are, and we repent to those around us if our insecurities have hurt them.
You are not in leadership by mistake. God has anointed and appointed you to be leading the people you lead.
If you are boldly living from a place of belonging, hurting and lost people will be drawn to the light you shine. This is how God’s Kingdom is advanced in the marketplace. Not through trying to live more missional or creating more programs, but by living in the truth and freedom of who God created you to be. People want to be around free people.
We have an enemy who hates this and opposes the advancement of God’s Kingdom, so when he strikes, he goes for the jugular – he goes for our very identity.
So, we must ask ourselves, “who am I allowing to define me?”
We must seek Jesus to understand who we are according to Him and intentionally reject the lies of the enemy because he is trying to steal, kill and destroy our identity.
When we live in the place of knowing we are fully seen, completely known, and perfectly loved, our lives become catalysts for advancing the Kingdom, and if we can live this out at work, the Kingdom is then advanced in the marketplace.