(to listen to a podcast of this teaching, click here)
What defines me?
What I wear?
Where I’m from?
What I know?
Who I know?
What I do?
What I’ve done?
These things shape me, and more interestingly,
They reveal what defines me.
All of us live as a result of what defines us.
It drives everything we do. And most of us don’t know who we are, what defines us. Or we have a false sense, an untrustworthy definition.
I live as a result of what defines me.
A Saturday Story
One Saturday, I sat in a room of leaders. My calling is to eradicate isolation and burnout so that leaders bear much fruit. My insecurity was stunning that day. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, make any connections, do anything other than just sit there and keep to myself…isolated. [clever, no?]
It defined me.
“Not enough” defined me.
It told me who I was and it told me what to do.
Mr. Insecurity. Mr. No One Will Like Me. Mr. No One Cares About Me. Mr. Shut Up And Keep To Yourself. Mr. Eradicate Isolation was Mr. Isolation.
But there is another lonely leader in that room.
There’s a church who needs to be led by a leader who walks in Godly authority. There’s a leader who’s caught up in trying to make the church he leads match the thriving church down the street – so intent on doing so that he has forgotten about what God already told him to do.
There’s a leader who is overwhelmed by the pressure of life, family, ministry…that tomorrow, she’ll give up.
Somewhere in that room is Rescue. Is Victorious. Is Conqueror. But right now, he’s Mr. Insecurity.
See, our lives are a gift to each other. We were designed in God’s image, we were defined by God’s definition.
And when I live by some other definition, it’s not just me that loses out, it’s you, it’s the world.
That Saturday, the Spirit of God prompted me to ask Him a question. A question that Jesus had asked His disciples.
Let’s look at Matthew 16. Jesus has this way of asking an easy question and then flipping it to go deep into someone’s heart.
Matthew 16:13-19 [NIV]
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
People are always trying to define you, or at least understand your definition, because it reveals who you are, how you will act, what you will do.
If Jesus wasn’t settled in who He was, He may have made an OAK tree grow out of his hand or changed the color of His hair. Instead, He reveals the strength of His identity by rebuking them.
Then in verses 7-11, He’s basically saying “You don’t understand yet?! What? Don’t you know that I’m defined by being more than enough? The strength of my identity is more than enough and that means that around Me, you’ll never have to worry about…having enough bread.”
That’s how identity or definition works – it always gets lived out. That’s why it’s so important.
Then in verse 13, “Who do PEOPLE…” and then “Who do YOU…”
Hear Jesus’ response to someone who understands His definition: 18b “I will build My Church on that revelation…!” There is power at stake when someone understands their identity. What happens when you know who you are? Everything happens!
And it’s really important, before we begin to work really hard to figure out our definition, our identity, that verse 17 clearly tells us that it’s not from human revelation, but by the Spirit of God.
So that Saturday, I pulled a “Jesus move” and flipped His question around and asked Jesus “Who do You say that I am?” And everything changed.
Since that day, I’ve asked Him on various occasions to answer that question. I’ve heard: Victorious, Conqueror, Warrior General, Winner, Son, Confident, Shepherd, Strong, An honorary Aspen, but really an Oak, Builder, a true David, Faithful Steward.
And the story goes on... Keep reading.