I was diagnosed with advanced cancer back in 2006 one week prior to my final divorce court date. When I lost my hair, eye brows, eye lashes, breasts and marriage, my identity took a big hit, the person I thought I was from a worldly perspective. When I looked in the mirror in shock and despair, the Holy Spirit quickly reminded my mind of what my soul always knows: In Him, I lack nothing. Stress is the power we give to outside circumstance to define our worth, value and capability. As I remembered by the help of the Holy Spirit, I’m not the image in the mirror, I resurrected my ability to see myself as God sees me: “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7.
What have you given power away to these days to define your worth and value? Perhaps it’s recognition? We have a tendency to care more about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us. At the end of John chapter 2 it’s noted that the people started to believe in Jesus because of what they saw and it also says that Jesus did not entrust Himself to man because He knew what was in their hearts. What has hacked into your identity that is causing you to forget who you are as a child of God? We are here to make God recognizable by loving others well, as Jesus did and does.
Let’s dismantle this a little to give it more clarity of focus thus increasing our ability to put it into daily action. First of all, know what you are and what you are not. This releases inner anxiety instantly. Phyllis Hendry Halverson, the previous CEO of Lead Like Jesus wrote a beautiful summary that captures our identity in God in the book she co-authored with Phil Hodges and Ken Blanchard: Lead Like Jesus Revisited:
As a follower of Jesus, understanding who I am begins with understanding whose I am. Who I am is not externally focused, but internally received as a child of God and follower of Jesus. It seems strange to say Whose I am versus Who I am. Because of Jesus, my identity is forever changed to the righteousness of God. Similar to the example of the caterpillar which contains the DNA of the butterfly: we mature into who we already are, by God’s grace and guidance. Scripture is full of descriptors of our identity: Dearly loved (Colossians 3:12), forgiven (Romans 4:7), chosen (John 15:9), a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), the apple of God’s eye (Psalm 17:8), the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), heir with Jesus (Romans 8:17), friends (John 15:14) and many more. Knowing who I am changes everything. Just think: Right now, in this minute, you are chosen by God, loved with an everlasting love, forgiven, redeemed, and filled with His Spirit from the top of your head to your toes. Now that’s who you are and there is no external situation that changes the fact of your identity. Our greatest challenge is not accepting and abiding in who we are. As leaders, we must help people understand the significance of the power within us because of who we are in Him.”
You ARE a child of God, possessing the blueprint of the Creator of the universe flowing through your spirit that is beyond all momentary troubles and tribulations. Your spirit knows itself to be enough, capable and victorious at all times even in the eye of the storm because it is connected to God.
You ARE NOT your circumstance, judgments from yourself and others, traumatic situations, rejection, fear, doubt or worry … unless you choose to believe you are in which case the spirit of fear will twist the reality of who you are as created in the image AND likeness of God.
For God did not give us a spirit of fear but of POWER, Love & Self-Control. You have a spirit that moves with self-control: the ability to choose a certain response to life that serves your well-being and the well-being of all concerned. Self-control is the second behavior in Emotional Intelligence in Christ and the ramification which flows directly from an identity grounded in Jesus.
We do not use the spirit of self-control enough in our daily life as we play victim to our circumstances: “If I don’t get this certain outcome, I won’t be able to handle it” … “life is a struggle” … “I can’t do that”, “Nothing ever works out for me” “I don’t understand why they did that, said that, didn’t do that … why things work out for other people and not for me.”
In order to experience the POWER and the LOVE contained at the heart of our identity in Jesus which fuels our ability to tune into available solutions to life’s challenges, self-control needs to be resurrected to the front lines of our responses to people, things and circumstances. Self-control continues to be one of the top character traits of highly effective leaders.
Transfer your learnings:
This week practice self-control … step back from your quick responses to life, often fueled by emotional flare-ups of unbridled ambition and seek the wisdom that flows from the Holy Spirit, known as the Counselor: “Give me the words to speak that are in my best interest and reflect the higher good I am created for, or the silence needed for even greater wisdom and guidance.” Remember, true greatness walks through the archway of temperance, humility and love. The gap, which allows wisdom to drop in between what happens around you and your response to it, grows bigger with each act of self-control fueled by the Holy Spirit within you. Self-control is the result of surrendering your identity into the identity of Jesus. As followers of Jesus, we have the same spirit that rose Jesus from the grave living within us. Self-control is our natural state of being when our identity is anchored in the love of God.
Dear God, I give you permission to resurrect within me the spirit that is my birth right as your child on earth: A spirit of POWER, LOVE and SELF-CONTROL. In order for me to experience the power of your love through my thoughts, words and responses to the life in front of my face I need the grace of faith in action manifested through self-control. Help me to remember who I am this week, why I do what I do and the bigger picture in life. Keep watch over my motives that I would do what I do for your glory and for the edification of the people you have entrusted to my care.
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