What Identity are You Fulfilling?
Perhaps you have noticed, I have not posted for a week. Since returning home from SYMC my life has been crazy. I have been fulfilling a lot of different identities and “blogger” has not been one of them. I have been living out part of my book (The Youth Ministry Paradigm) the past several days. Since it is going to be out in a month or two, I want to give you a preview. This excerpt is from chapter 4:
We all fill a number of different identities in our day-to-day life. No matter what profession or stage of life you are in, we all wear different “hats”: sometimes it’s the friend hat, sometimes it’s the football fanatic hat, other times it’s the crazed driver hat. The paradigm asks that the only hat we wear is the youth worker hat and everything else we do must fit under it, if there is room.
If God is not asking you to change who you are in order to fulfill the ministry He wants you to do, what is His direction? We all know it is impossible to truly fulfill every identity that presents itself in our daily life. God does not expect you to be able to fulfill every identity that is presented to you. He does expect you to fulfill every identity you say yes to. Therefore, we as youth workers have to learn that “no” is not a bad word.
Obviously there are some identities we should not say no to, like Christian, family member, and me. Yet sometimes these are the only ones we say no to. But these are not the identities that typically dominate our ministry life. The ones that do dominate our lives are the ones we might need to say no to, like website designer, office manager, janitor, addiction specialist, professional counselor, stand-up comedian, etc, etc. Where most youth workers mess up is that they don’t put all these identities into a healthy priority list. Most people don’t even have a list, much less actually prioritize it.
In first Timothy chapter three, Paul describes what the life of a leader in the church should be like. He basically makes a list of identities we need to fulfill. As you read through this passage, notice the identities Paul describes.
1 Timothy 3:1 – 13 (NLT) 1It is a true saying that if someone wants to be an elder, he desires an honorable responsibility. 2For an elder must be a man whose life cannot be spoken against. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exhibit self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home and must be able to teach. 3He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, peace loving, and not one who loves money. 4He must manage his own family well, with children who respect and obey him. 5For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? 6An elder must not be a new Christian, because he might be proud of being chosen so soon, and the Devil will use that pride to make him fall. 7Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not fall into the Devil’s trap and be disgraced. 8In the same way, deacons must be people who are respected and have integrity. They must not be heavy drinkers and must not be greedy for money. 9They must be committed to the revealed truths of the Christian faith and must live with a clear conscience. 10Before they are appointed as deacons, they should be given other responsibilities in the church as a test of their character and ability. If they do well, then they may serve as deacons. 11In the same way, their wives must be respected and must not speak evil of others. They must exercise self-control and be faithful in everything they do. 12A deacon must be faithful to his wife, and he must manage his children and household well. 13Those who do well as deacons will be rewarded with respect from others and will have increased confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus.
What identities are in there? What identities did you expect would be in there, but aren’t? Notice that Paul concludes that living life the way you should, will ultimately increase your faith. Is your current list of identities in an order that is increasing your faith? If not, change is needed.
When was the last time you were really alone? Remember what happened in Jacob’s life right before God showed up to institute change in him? He ended up completely alone. My guess is that you cannot remember the last time you were truly alone for more than a few minutes; and no, the bathroom stall does not count. The first step in allowing God to work in a new way is to get alone, have God show up, and wrestle some things out with Him if need be.
While you are alone, make a list of all the identities you fulfill in your life. Think through your daily and weekly routines and write down every identity where you spend any amount of time. Once you have your list, prioritize it according to your real life. Then compare your list to the Biblical priority list. As you compare these two lists, remember the question I already raised: are you an example worthy of following by the students you minister to? A hard question to admit the truth about I know, but if you continue to ignore it, God cannot work in a new way.
As I said, I am living this out…again…right now. I hope it can help you as it has helped me.
Posted on March 12, 2012, in My life, Youth Ministry and tagged burn out, life lessons, priorities in life, role of a youth worker, time management, when to say no, youth worker. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.