Identity Crisis

Identity Crisis
Give up who you are, and become the person God made you to be.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve battled deep feelings of inadequacy. The first time someone called me “Pastor Craig,” I felt unworthy of the title. I felt I didn’t know enough, wasn’t good enough, and certainly wasn’t pastoral enough (whatever that means). In the early years, I’d be so nervous before preaching that I’d actually throw up in a garbage can. Gross, I know. But that’s what happened. I simply didn’t feel worthy to represent God by teaching His Holy Word.

As a father of six children, I’ve battled feelings of inadequacy about being a godly dad. The first time I held my oldest daughter, I vividly remember being overwhelmed with inner fears and doubts. In my arms, I held a living human being. To make matters worse, I’d just given a puppy back to its previous owner because I couldn’t handle the crazy dog. On top of that, my wife and I had managed to kill every plant within a block of our home. How could we care for a child?

Maybe you can relate. You have a friend who’s way more successful than you are. You wonder, Why can’t I be more like that? What’s wrong with me? Or you visit your neighbor’s “perfect” home. The house smells good, is decorated flawlessly, and simply feels peaceful. You think about the not-so-organized chaos and the do-the-best-you-can style of decor that fills your home. Or maybe you’ve felt spiritually inadequate. You’ve got a friend who has a Bible verse for everything, while you’re still trying to learn John 3:16.

The thoughts go around in our heads: I’m not good enough. I can’t live up to what others expect. I don’t have what it takes. I just can’t do it all.

If you can relate, it’s time to make a change. It’s time to sacrifice who you think you are so you can become who God says you are. To overcome the false beliefs of my “inner me” or ego, I try to remember the following three truths.

• God’s view of you is different than you think. When Gideon was threshing wheat in a wine press, an angel appeared to him and said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (Judg. 6:12 NIV). Like me, Gideon didn’t think highly of himself. He probably would have described himself as a mighty wimp, not a mighty warrior. But God saw in him something Gideon didn’t yet see.

Do you believe God when He calls you His “masterpiece” (Eph. 2:10 NLT) or perfect “workmanship” (NASB)? God knew exactly what He was doing when He made you. Although I don’t feel I’m good enough to be a pastor, God’s view of me is different than I think. My righteousness isn’t based on my own efforts, but on Jesus’ death and resurrection. I am not what I think about myself. I am who God says I am, and whether or not I believe Him will determine how I live, think, and relate to others.

• God has given you much more than you think. After calling Gideon a mighty warrior, God told him to “go in the strength” he had (Judg. 6:14 NIV). In other words, God had already given him what he needed. This is a truth that I’ve been learning to internalize.

For years, I felt very insecure about writing. When I was growing up, I was horrible at reading comprehension. Since I couldn’t read well, everyone assumed writing would be a challenge. So my mom proofed every paper I wrote. In my mind, I was below average. Years later, a publisher asked me to write a book. Since I believed I couldn’t write well, I politely declined. The publisher insisted I had a message worth telling and offered to hire a writing coach. Nervous, I finally agreed to give it a shot.

After a dozen false starts, I still couldn’t finish an introductory paragraph. Finally, my coach suggested that I simply write as fast as I could without stopping to edit. He gave me two hours to just let the words flow. To my shock, after the time limit expired, I’d written more than 16 pages. I’ll never forget the emotion I felt when I realized that God had given me more than I’d thought.

Second Peter 1:3 says, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life” (NLT). I have all I need to do whatever God wants me to do. The same is true for you. He’s equipped each of us to do everything He’s calling us to do—and we need to recognize and value the unique gifts He’s provided rather than focus on our perceived shortcomings.

Maybe you feel as if you rarely have the right words to say, but you’re a great listener. God can use your gift of listening to change lives just as much as someone with a gift for words. Or perhaps you aren’t an “upfront person” and feel useless because you don’t have visible leadership skills. But God may have gifted you to be an incredible behind-the-scenes person. And the greatest are those who serve (Matt. 23:11). You might not feel great about yourself because you don’t make a six-figure income. But you’ve been home each evening investing in your family. You’re wildly successful and building a legacy in ways you don’t even realize.

• It’s less about you than you think. God let Gideon know that he was a mighty warrior and urged him to go in the strength he’d already been given, even if he didn’t feel strong. Then the Lord reminded him: “I will be with you” (Judg. 6:16). When God calls you to do something, it’s less about your power and more about His presence.

God has been teaching me this truth in all areas of my life. Remember how I used to throw up before speaking? Not any more. Before standing to share God’s Word, I do something to remind myself that it’s about Him, not me—I take one step forward. It symbolizes a big difference. As I move forward, I remember that I’m leaving myself behind. By faith, I’m stepping into God’s strength, God’s power, God’s calling. And He is with me.

If you feel inadequate in any area of your life, I encourage you to step out of who you think you are. Step away from others’ assumptions and into who God says you are. You are His masterpiece. You are His perfect workmanship. If you belong to Him, you’re filled with the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. You have everything you need to do whatever God has in mind.

So yes—on our own, we are inadequate. But thanks be to God, in our weakness, His strength is made perfect.

by Craig Groeschel

Illustration by Jeff Gregory

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