Everybody in leadership needs to foster the right self-identity in relationship to their work. For many of us, identity issues can be major sources of pain and frustration as we seek to make a difference in the position the Lord has placed us.
Craig Hamilton mentions this in his new book Wisdom in Leadership: The How and Why of Leading the People You Serve in the chapter titled “Don’t let what God wants you to do get in the way of who God wants you to be.”
In that chapter, Hamilton talks about the delicate balance all in leadership positions need to have in thinking about themselves and their leadership roles, and mentions three dangers in thinking about the being/doing relationship:
Danger #2: Trying to separate the two can also lead to thinking that what God wants you to do is more important than who God wants you to be.
Danger #3: When you see who you are and what you do as completely overlapping, you can begin to think that what God has called you to do is what God has called you to be. This third danger doesn’t have as much to do with personal godliness and discipleship as it does with where you find your worth and value.
Maybe you’re like me and resonate with all three of these dangers at one time or another. For me, the key to striking the right balance is to (1) find my identity in the finished work of Christ and to (2) realize that God doesn’t need me.
Hamilton picks up on the need to have an identity rooted in Christ when he shares the dangerous path some of Christ’s disciples started down when they said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” (Luke 10:17). Sensing the danger, Jesus replied:
“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:19-20; emphasis mine)
This is key to striking the right being and doing balance.
The joy and wonder of our salvation should fuel our works of service for Christ and not the other way around (Titus 2:11-14). If we burden ourselves thinking that our worth flows from our service, we are doomed to despair because we can never do enough. We can’t let our work for Christ cause us to forget Christ’s finished work for us.
We also need to remember that God doesn’t need us, but graciously chooses to use us to accomplish His purposes. This not only keeps me from trying to be a savior I was never meant to be, but also fills me with tremendous joy that the God of the universe would task me with something, however small, to do for His glory.