Grace of Humility

graceYou made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well. (Psalm 139:13-14)

Ponder It.

  • What characteristics do you have that you attribute to God?
  • What characteristics do you have that aren’t characteristic of God?
  • Consider what determines your identity: Job? Family? Social status? Abilities? Intelligence?

Receive It. You are who God says you are. Your identity is in him, not in the world. It’s easy to get caught up in all the roles you assume on a regular basis. You might be a teacher, wife, mom, grandma, mentor, housekeeper, cook, caregiver, and so on. What you do doesn’t determine who you are, but it certainly shapes you. As you get caught up in your daily tasks and responsibilities, you can begin to feel as if you’re in a quagmire, becoming discouraged in a routine with no significance. On the other hand, you can inflate yourself because of the opportunities and roles you have. Because others respect you, you can begin to believe the hype of all that others believe you can do in your own strength. Even those in ministry can fall in the trap of self-sufficiency. God demands humility from each of us. Humility is simply placing ourselves in the accurate position of who where are, which is God’s creation. He has no intention in demeaning us. It’s not how he deals with his authority. But he is the Creator, and we are the created. Our identity is in him. If we define ourselves as any more or less, we are distorting our true identities. Only God determines who we are. Only he truly knows our potential and our purpose. He will reveal it to us as we know and trust him. By seeking him, you will know yourself better.

Live It. Claim who God says you are. Make a list of characteristics of God. Write notes to the side of each one to identify how well you feel you embrace the characteristic. You’re created in his image, but are you inviting him to invade your life and shape you as you grow? As you identify areas for potential growth, ask God to challenge you to yield to him with opportunities for growth.

Playing Dress Up

My dad borrowed a beekeeper’s outside when he needed to get rid of a bunch of unwanted pests in the barn.

He dressed up like a Little Miss contestant for a County Fair Board dinner (complete with a contraption that made it look like he (she?) peed on stage).

He and Mom dressed as dice one Halloween when I was in high school. (Because it was too difficult to get in and out of their boxes, I went with them to visit their friends’ houses, so once they were in town, they could ride in the back, and I could drive them from one house to the next.)

Sometimes Dad dressed as something he wasn’t, but then there were the many hats he put on in everyday life: husband, dad, friend, neighbor, farmer, commodities broker, ag co-op manager, bulldozer operator, stone quarry supervisor, Toastmaster, transportation dispatcher, and the list goes on. He did what he needed to do to provide for our family and help others.

Then there are frequent roles as instigator, trip planner, adventurer, problem-solver, and goofy joke teller. He did what he could to enjoy life and help others enjoy it, too.

He didn’t hesitate to try a new hat and a new role in order to get by or just to try something new. But his most comfortable go-to hat was the well-worn, often camouflage, ball cap.

It’s important to know what’s comfortable. It’s equally as important to try new things. Those new things change us, because they challenge and grow us, but there is a core to who we are. It’s the non-negotiable, lasting things about us. It’s our stripped down identify. It’s founded in our purpose, and we get energized by revisiting the core of who we are so we can intentionally move forward. It’s our humble selves, where we can’t hide anything. And that’s okay.

It’s a good person to get to know, in both yourself and others.

 

Give Up and Gain

Whoever tries to make his life secure will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
(Luke 17:33)

a53aecf61fafdd1c999495c8e9a1b835We don’t like the idea of losing ourselves. After all, we struggle through discovering who we are. Even in the context of our faith, we want to discover who God intends for us to be. Which is exactly why we have to lose ourselves. When we are willing to set aside ourselves and all the assumptions, preferences, and so on that come along with who we want to be and think we are, we lose ourselves…but not our identity. In fact, we find our identify. As we give up ourselves, we trust God enough to peel back the facade, the unnecessary, and reveal His intentions. We begin to become who He intended for us to become all along. It’s not easy or comfortable, but it is the most grounding, satisfying, comforting truth of who we are. We no longer look at a dim reflection and wonder who we are. We no longer see only what we want to see and who we want to mold ourselves into. We see ourselves through His eyes. And we continue to let Him work in and on us to reveal ourselves to…us.

He already knows.

Why You Share What You Share

Why do you share what you share on social media? Think about it.

  • Do you want to prove your point?
  • Do you want to inform people? Of what?
  • Do you want to associate with someone, and sharing gives you the appearance of a relationship?
  • Do you want attention?
  • Do you want a good deal, even if it’s too good to be true?
  • Do you want to increase your following?
  • Do you want to push buttons, surprise or shock people?
  • Do you want to passive-aggressively hurt or offend someone?
  • Do you want to brag?
  • Do you want to encourage people?
  • Do you want to welcome accountability?

Are your intentions on social media different than sharing in person?

It’s important to know your motivation for sharing. It’s your heart issue, and you need to keep your intentions in check.

Sharing is an invitation.

You get to invite people into…whatever you choose. When you click the share button, you give a bit of yourself. You give a snapshot of who you are…or who you want others to believe you are, which still gives a glimpse of who you really are. If you deceive others, you deceive yourself. You can never be unaffected by the persona you project to others. It is still you. You click the share button. Your intentions affect you.

It seems like a lot of pressure, but really, you can accept it as an opportunity to take a deep breath. Inhale and consider your motivation. Filter it through God’s will. Is it share-worthy? If it is, it should also be God-worthy. Does it honor Him? If the answer is “yes,” then exhale. Share. Click the button. Love God. Love others.

It sounds simple. But really, it is. We can get tied up in our intentions, or keep them pure.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Some Things Stick to Our Identity

Are you retired?

Yes.

What did you retire from?

Farming.

My dad hadn’t farmed for decades, yet that was his response. He had held a lot of interesting jobs: dispatching a fleet of trucks, guiding motorists and officials for statewide transportation, excavating, managing a farming co-op, brokering commodities, and much more. Granted, farming certainly occupied more of his time than any other occupation throughout his life, but it wasn’t the last thing he did. It’s what he identified with the most.

Some things stick to our identity. It becomes such an important part of who we are that we can’t tell if we were always that way and it seeped out or if we surrounded ourselves with it so much that it seeped in.

But we know it’s important. We know it’s who we are.

What do you want to be known for more than anything? What is your identity? I’m not talking about work, like in my dad’s case. If my dad was asked to describe his identity, I don’t think the first thing he’d say is “farmer.” Identity goes much deeper and reaches much farther.

But it’s important to know who you are, what you’ve allowed and relied on to form your identity. Sometimes the things we believe about ourselves aren’t as accurate as we want to think. We need to evaluate with authenticity and move forward with intention.

So, who are you?

The S-Word. Submission.

Submission.

The S-word.

Our problems with it are primarily problems we have with authority. Once we get the authority thing figured out, we can deal with submission better. When we accept authority, we can accept submission. We come to know who has authority over us, and we more willingly live under it.

It’s like living under a banner. We have to know our identity in order to know our authority. It’s like the tribes of Israel. Each knew his or her tribe, and they knew who created them and appointed them to their tribes.

We must know who God is and what it means to be made in His image and identified by His name.

And Moses built an altar and named it, “The Lord Is My Banner.” He said, “Indeed, my hand is lifted up toward the Lord’s throne.” (Exodus 17:15-16)

The Lord is my banner. I trust His authority…and submitting to Him doesn’t seem daunting, frightening, or compromising…because I trust Him.

Who Do You Belong To?

whoseareyouI worked for a publishing company for several years and traveled extensively around the country, attending conferences and presenting workshops and trainings. I almost always wore a logo-ed shirt of some kind, because name recognition is important in marketing. What I said needed to be connected to who I was representing.

I built a lot of relationships during the season I worked with the publishing company. Many people got to know me personally through my association with the publishing company. I personally ministered to many people as I worked on behalf of the publishing company. I fit in well with the company. I respected the leaders of the company. But I ran into an unforeseen issue when I no longer worked for the company. When people saw me, they saw the company I had represented. My identity was intricately tied with the company.

It was almost as if I went through an identity crisis.

However, it wasn’t a personal identity crisis. I knew who I was and whose I was. All along, I tried to represent God in the most accurate, authentic ways I could as I ministered. I sought to honor God first and foremost. The identity crisis wasn’t mine to personally resolve. It was more of an identity crisis for others, trying to figure out who I was in the context of how they had met me and for whom I had worked. It’s as if they were asking, “Was the person we met who you really are, or was the person we met an employee of a company, and you’re actually different from that person?” Someone even asked me, “We’d love to have you come speak at our event, but we’re a little confused about whether you’ll come and share about the ministry you used to talk about or the ministry you’re involved in now.”

I am me. I’m the only one God has created. He has a purpose for me. I intend to do my best to seek him and live his purpose and will out loud.

As I walked through a large conference hall recently, I noticed all the logo-ed shirts people were wearing. I could easily identify (or at least assume) who works for or serves with which company. It made me consider how we brand ourselves and ask myself,

Whose am I?

How do I let others know whose I am?

Am I as willing and ready to wear the name of Jesus as any other name or brand?

Perhaps you’ll find asking yourself the same questions helpful…and maybe even challenging as you live your faith out loud.

The one who joins with the Lord is one spirit with the Lord. (1 Corinthians 6:17)