Chapter 7: What is Your Backstory?
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
- Psalm 139:19-
All it takes is one look at the world around us to see the immense power that stories carry with them. Box office numbers are huge. Books continue to sell in staggering amounts even in the digital age. There are an incredible number of streaming services bringing us an abundance of TV shows and films that all tell their own story. We just can’t get enough of a good story!
Why is that? It’s because stories entertain us, inspire us, and help us to process the world around us. The stories that resonate with us most are the true stories. Learning about other people’s experiences touches our hearts in a unique way. Thankfully, so many have been bold and gracious enough to share their stories and enrich our lives with them.
Our stories are powerful. You never know how your story might impact the life of another. I feel called to share my story with you. That is precisely why I wrote this book. I pray that it points you toward the love, grace, and mercy of the one true God. He is waiting for you with open arms, ready to help you write the next chapter of your own story, just as He did for me.
We must realize that the part of our story here on this earth is fleeting and temporary. Yes, we have a meaningful purpose in this life, but it is leading to the life to come. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 says, “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.”
Your backstory has led you to where you are at this present moment. This present moment is leading you to the fulfillment of that purpose. And the fulfillment of that purpose is leading you to God’s everlasting Kingdom, which is your eternal home!
That’s why it’s crucial to know your backstory. God is using your backstory to shape who you are today. Romans 8:28 reads, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Even when we walk with Christ through life, we will experience the trials of this world. But God promises that He can use even the negative experiences of our lives and mold them according to His will. Everything we experience in life is something that God can use to fuel our calling and purpose. We must trust in Him to do just that.
Your backstory is the backbone of your God-given mission. So, I ask you this: Do you know your backstory? What are the places, people, and events that have shaped the person you have become? How is God using all of these things to guide you? Your answers to these questions will aid you in discovering and walking in your God-given purpose.
Sometimes, knowing, understanding, and embracing our backstory makes us have to confront some old pain. That’s challenging, but it’s ok. It’s actually a huge catalyst for growth. We all have pain that lives in the past. Many of us have just stuffed it away, never truly resolving it. Digging into and embracing our backstory gives us the powerful opportunity to confront, resolve, and utilize that old pain for the betterment of our future. Remember, God can and will use every experience of your life to push you toward His purpose for your life if only you would pay attention to where He is leading!
The things you’ve learned from your backstory can help propel you from where you are to where God has destined you to be. Are you ready to go on this journey with God?
Chapter 8: What is Your Name?
“A good name is more desirable than great riches, to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”
- Proverbs 22:1-
Have you seen the classic film, “The Princess Bride?” There is a fun character in that movie that shows us the powerful meaning there is behind our name. His name is Inigo Montoya. He likes to let you know that. What if I told you that Inigo Montoya had something to tell us about our God-given mission? Would you think I was crazy?
Probably, but I’m going to do it anyway. Inigo has been the subject of many memes and jokes over the years because of his eagerness to speak his name. But is there something deeper and more profound that we can learn from this Inigo Montoya?
We all know his famous line: “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die!” While this movie is a comedy, with many, if not all, of its characters being ridiculously over the top, we come to find that Inigo is a lot more than comic relief. We learn that Inigo is driven by purpose, and that purpose is declared every time he speaks his name.
Inigo’s mission is inseparable from his name. That’s the mission we are called to live as well!
Names have meaning and purpose. We see this truth throughout the Bible. We’re going to look at a couple of examples from the Scriptures that show us how closely our name is related to our God-given mission.
Abram or Abraham?
When we first meet Abraham, his name is Abram. In the ancient Hebrew of the Old Testament, Abram means “Exalted father.” That’s a strong and powerful name! But then God shows up, giving Abram a new name: “I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham for you will be the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them!” (Genesis 17:5-6).
This promise led to Abraham’s descendants becoming the nation of Israel, the very children of God. This is a crucial moment in biblical history, leading all the way up to the life of Jesus which is at the center of our faith today.
So, we know that Abram’s God-given mission was hugely important. But why the name change?
His new name, Abraham, means, “Father of many.” His very name spoke his purpose. When Abraham declared his name, he also declared his purpose! Just like our friend Inigo Montoya.
When we first meet Peter, his name is Simon.
When we meet Peter early on, he is a fisherman who comes to follow Jesus, and his name is Simon. But even in the midst of his time with Jesus, he is constantly doubting, messing up, and not living out his true potential. He is showing his human nature constantly and in every way. One profound example of this is the story of Jesus walking on water.
The disciples find themselves on a boat in the middle of a terrifying storm. Now, to really let this story sink in, we have to deeply consider their dire situation for a moment. They weren’t on the water in a luxury boat of our times. They weren’t even in a modest, humble boat of our times. They were in the most modest and humblest of boats of ancient times. It had little to no defense against such brutal weather. Imagine the kind of boat a poor fisherman would own in those times. How do you think it would hold up in the face of a fierce and battering storm?
In this light, it’s completely understandable why they would be terrified while trying to survive such a storm. The winds and waves battered their humble boat, and they must have felt as if it was just a matter of time until they would meet their watery demise. But Jesus was not only coming to save them. Jesus was coming to show them just what kind of legendary feats they were also capable of.
You’ve heard a million times about how Jesus walked on water. But do you ever hear people talking about how Peter walked on water as well? Matthew 14:28-29 reads, “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” It’s amazing that Jesus walked on water, yes, but we’ve come to see Him do many miraculous things. The essential part of this story is the fact that through the power of Jesus, Peter was able to do the miraculous as well!
Even though Peter was able to do something so amazing through Jesus, it still took some time for it to truly sink in and for Peter to grasp the full potential within him. This powerful moment for Peter happens after he spends time with the resurrected Jesus and Jesus forgives him for Peter’s denying of Him in His time of trial. He then commissions Peter to continue His work on Earth and establish His church.
There’s something else beautiful that happens here. John 21:15-17 reads:
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
Through this encounter, Peter is able to settle his sin. Drawing upon the power of Jesus and the mission passed onto Him, He goes out into the world and does remarkable things. Next, we see him preaching so powerfully at Pentecost that the Bible says that three thousand people became followers of Jesus that day! Acts 2:41 reads, “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” That is a HUGE number! Think about the joy and accomplishment we feel when through our ministry, ONE person comes to faith. This is THREE THOUSAND! That is absolutely miraculous. Peter was able to live out his calling in a powerful way without being held back by sin because he had settled his sin.
When we first meet Paul, his name is Saul. He is both a Pharisee and Roman citizen. He is zealous for his faith, so much so that he is deeply offended by the rise of Christianity. Saul becomes completely obsessed with snuffing out Christianity before it can take a foothold in the world. Paul goes to frightening and drastic lengths to persecute Christians, leading them back to Rome in chains and even watching as he orders a prominent Christian leader to be stoned to death.
But then, a massive change happens in Saul’s life. As he is travelling down the Damascus Road, he encounters the risen Jesus. Jesus asks Saul a simple question: “Why are you persecuting me?” From that moment, Saul’s life was never the same.
That encounter with Saul opened his eyes. He became a completely new person with a brand new mission. Saul’s God-given mission led to him becoming a champion of Christianity, planting churches all over the ancient world, and also writing a large part of what would come to be our New Testament Scriptures. With Saul’s God-given mission came a brand new name: Paul. The new name symbolizes the new life and mission that Paul received when Jesus entered his life.
Names are all about our identity and purpose in this world. Let your God-given mission fuel and be the foundation of that identity and purpose.
Chapter 9: What Are Your God-Given Talents?
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
- Ephesians 3:20-
In the Gospels, Jesus chooses twelve men to form His inner circle. These are His disciples, the ones that partnered with Him and ministry and shared in the redemptive work that He set out to accomplish. But when we first meet these disciples, they are ordinary people, much like you and me! They have yet to realize their full potential. They often question everything and doubt themselves heavily. They fight with one another and are prone to messing up.
But as the Gospel story continues, these twelve people grow in remarkable ways! The more they walk with Jesus, the more their potential is drawn out. They begin to realize that through the power of God, they can do things they never thought possible before. They end up collaborating with Jesus in His redemptive work, accomplishing astounding miracles for the cause of God’s Kingdom.
The same is true in your life. You are so much more than you realize! To unlock your God-given potential, the first thing you must realize is that you are a child of God! That’s where your identity, purpose, and calling must arise from. Through your role as a child of God, He grants you immeasurable power in His name to accomplish unbelievable things for His Kingdom!
Yes, we are limited human beings. There is only so much we can do on our own. But God's power is alive in us! While we may have limits, God does not. To limit ourselves is to limit God’s power and influence in our lives. That would be a terrible mistake because He has planned unbelievable things for your life!
He works within us through His Holy Spirit. The Spirit is our source of power, encouragement, and guidance along our journey. When we walk with the Holy Spirit, we can bring about manifestations of God’s power in our lives that are far beyond anything we can have ever imagined before.
If God has called you to do something, you can trust that He will equip you with everything you need to see it through to completion. God will NEVER leave you without the strength you need to see your calling through. You are His child, and He will withhold no good gifts from you.
God has placed unlimited potential within you as His child. When you embrace this powerful truth, you’ll be on the path to realizing the fullness of that potential within your life!
To come to know God’s purpose for your life. The first step in realizing your potential is to spend time with yourself. What things do you naturally strive at? What's in your DNA? The answers God leads you to will go a long way in helping you figure out your purpose.
God has placed your skills and passions within you for a reason. He has crafted your purpose to be accomplished through the utilization of those skills and passions. He does this so that we would not only thrive in what we are called to do but also find fulfillment in it. God has put all the pieces that make you who are you in your life for a reason. When you hone in on your relationship with Him and follow the path He’s laid before you, you start to unravel that reason for yourself.
Do you know what your God-given gifts are? If not, it’s time to uncover them. God wants to walk with you through this process and reveal them to you. This will come naturally as you focus on your relationship with the Lord, and the two best relationship-builders with God are Bible reading and prayer!
Commit to a daily Bible reading plan. Couple that time in God’s Word with prayer. It can be as little as fifteen minutes a day. Quality over quantity applies here. What you need is to be present with God. Then, when you eagerly seek Him within His Word, He starts to show you what He is leading you to. Take your time going through the Bible and be patient. It’s not going to happen right away, but when you are consistent, He will reveal His plan and purpose for your life.
Patience can be challenging, but remember that everything is a process. God will develop the potential that you carry, like a seed blossoming in the soil. You are the seed, planted in the soil of God's Word and watered by faith. This process won't always be easy, but the reward you will find on the other side will change your life. We all have a natural, innate desire to be everything we can be. That’s because God created us with this potential and purpose already inside of us.
The word "wait" carries a lot of weight. You have to decide what kind of posture you are going to be taking in the meantime. You can take this season and turn it into an opportunity to fully prepare yourself for the path God is placing you on. Develop your natural abilities. Learn something new that enhances what you can already do. Never stay stagnant and always keep growing. We are all a work in progress and must do our part along that path.
No matter what God has called you to, make sure that you are spreading the Gospel to others as you do it. In these troubling times, people need the anchor that faith provides more than ever. Let God's love and peace flow through you, impacting the world around you as you further God's Kingdom here on Earth. Let your unique talents be more what you can do: Let them be a testimony to the power and influence of God in your life. Let them shine as a light to the world that reflects God’s love, mercy, and power to all.
Our goal is not to become well-rounded or continually attempt to overcompensate for our weaknesses. God has given us a unique set of talents specifically for our mission. That is the skill-set we must focus on. There may be a lot of things that arise that attempt to pull us off of that path. We must keep laser-focused on the path God has paved before us and walk it diligently. When we do, we will accomplish unbelievable things in His name and walk in our God-given mission.
Chapter 10: What is Your Vocation? Do Your Relationships Have a Hierarchy?
“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
- Ephesians 4:1-
Vocation is described as “a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation” or “a person’s employment or main occupation, especially regarded as particularly worthy and requiring great dedication.” Ok, but what does that mean? It means that your vocation is more than “just a job.” Your vocation is your purpose!
Your vocation is closely tied to the relationships you hold most dear in your life as well. Are you married or single? Would you consider yourself a “religious” person? How does this change your mission and the priority of relationships in your life? (God, spouse, family, everyone else). These are all crucial questions to ask yourself.
In 1 Corinthians 7:7, Paul expresses the desire that all believers would be as he is: Single and wholly devoted to nothing but the Lord. But he realizes that people in fact have other callings that are tied to important relationships in their lives. For instance, there are those who are called into ministry as a couple. God uses their relationship itself as a light into the lives of others. Through their unity in purpose God is able to accomplish even more miraculous things through them.
There are certain vocations as well that receive a boon when lived out by a single person. For instance, work such as Paul was doing was something that would not have suited itself well for family life. He was never home (in fact, he didn’t even have one!) and didn’t have the time to devote to the care of a family of his own.
Many times, God works things out where your vocation is always your God-given mission. After all, God desires that we would be able to devote ourselves fully to our calling while still providing for ourselves and our families. This is a great blessing that we must never take for granted. We must give our all toward our vocation.
Sadly, this isn’t always possible in every case, and that’s ok! Some of us will be like Paul, plying a trade that helps us to fuel our God-given mission. Paul had a mission to travel around the ancient Mediterranean world and plant churches, furthering the cause of the Gospel. But sadly, that kind of work didn’t bring him the income he needed in order to survive.
Paul’s tent-making is spoken about in Acts 18:1-4. We often misunderstand this passage and believe that Paul was making tents in order to make the money necessary to fuel his ministry. This view is too narrow. Why? Because it doesn’t leave room for seeing Paul’s act of tentmaking as a witness to Christ in and of itself! Paul is a witness not only when he preaches: He is also a witness when he makes tents! Yes, he used his earnings to benefit his ministry and the churches he served, but the tentmaking was about more than bringing in money.
The Holy Spirit empowers people to use their skills for the furtherance of the Gospel. That doesn’t mean only the skills that we normally think of as skills equipped for ministry: Preaching, leading worship, writing, etc. It also means things such as Paul’s tentmaking. No matter what you are doing, you can be a witness for Christ as you go about your work.
Of course, Paul, like all of us, had a need to support himself. But Paul’s main focus and concern were bringing benefit to the rest of God’s children. When Paul describes his economic impact to the people of the church of Ephesus, writes:
“I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities, and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by so toiling one must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:33-35)
Paul encourages others to follow his example. He desires that all of God’s children would commit their earnings to the betterment of the community and be focused on the needs of others, just as Jesus Himself was. Paul isn’t worried whatsoever about being wealthy or maintaining any kind of social status. His sole and primary goal is to accomplish the God-given mission set before him.
This means that Paul’s “secular” job of tentmaking is not merely a means of fueling his “spiritual” job of preaching. Paul sees everything working together as a witness to Christ. He can be a witness in his tentmaking work as well as in his preaching. Paul was not content to be stuck in a narrow-minded view of his work and neither should you! Commit everything you are doing to the Lord. It is all a part of the mission He has called you to.
Even as he is being transported across the sea as a prisoner, he employs his gifts of leadership and encouragement to guide the soldiers and sailors holding him captive to safety during a severe storm (Acts 27:27-38). If he had not had the gift of being a preacher and apostle, he would still have been a witness to Christ simply by the way he engaged in making tents, toiling for the sake of the community, and working for the good of others in all situations.
Even if our job isn’t our vocation, it can fuel our vocation and still be a witness in and of itself. Paul leads us through his example in tentmaking. Let whatever God has led you to at the moment be a part of your God-given mission and be a witness to Christ wherever you are.
Chapter 11: What is Your Temperament?
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
- Galatians 5:22-23-
Along the path of living out your God-given mission, it’s essential to know yourself as well as you can. Learn your strengths, accept your weaknesses, and understand your temperament. Knowing these things, and being honest with yourself about them, will help you to more efficiently navigate the challenges that await you on your journey.
For example, let’s say that you naturally struggle with anger. You tend to have a shorter fuse than most people, and that’s ok! Patience is not your strong suit. That can give you clues about what your calling may or not be. Perhaps God isn’t leading you toward a vocation where you are responsible for the intense emotional needs of others, such as being a Christian counselor. Maybe that kind of emotion would be too much for you.
But, on the other hand, you have a natural eye for design. Perhaps God is calling you instead to utilize that gift for design in service to the church. You end up becoming the lead design coordinator on the worship team at your church. You end up designing and implementing all the graphics that are used during your church’s worship service! A perfect fit, benefitting both your own spiritual journey and the life of the church.
Let’s face it: We’re all different! That’s exactly why God has given us each a unique mission to fulfill based on who we are and the potential He has placed within us. We weren’t all created to do the same thing. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. That’s why God has created such a variety of gifts and purposes in which to utilize them! There’s not a “one-size-fits-all” strategy when it comes to living out our God-given mission in life!
Your temperament will provide more clues into how to live out your calling. Temperament is defined as “a person’s nature, especially as it permanently affects their behavior.” What is your temperament? Here are examples of common temperaments:
Sanguine Personality Type
Sanguine personality types are characterized by their tendency to be lively, optimistic, and carefree. They crave adventure and aren’t worried about taking risks.
Sanguine people can struggle with relationships as they have an urge to always seek something new and adventurous. The day in and day out routines of relationships can be challenging for them. Sanguine individuals can often seek out pleasure-seeking behaviors. In light of this, addiction is a real threat to sanguine personality types. This includes struggling with weight and overeating, as the constant craving for food can be overwhelming.
Sanguine people are naturally creative and artistic. These natural abilities suit them well for working in areas such as these:
Phlegmatic Personality Type
Individuals with a phlegmatic personality type are typically people persons! They seek out close relationships, making them loyal spouses and devoted parents. People with this personality type typically go out of their way to maintain relationships with old friends, family members, and neighbors.
If you have a phlegmatic personality type, you likely try to avoid conflict. Not only that, it’s also likely that you try to mediate for others as well. You may also be devoted to charity and helping others. Careers best suited for phlegmatic personality types are:
- Psychology or counseling
- Child development
- Social services
Choleric Personality Type
Choleric personality types tend to be very goal-oriented people. They are savvy, analytical, and logical. They focus on being practical and straightforward, sometimes making friendly and personal relationships challenging for them.
Choleric personality types are best suited for jobs in:
Melancholic Personality Type
If you have a melancholic personality type, it’s likely that you have a deep love and appreciation for tradition. These types tend to avoid adventure as much as they can, instead thriving and enjoying the normalcy of everyday life.
Melancholic people are quite social, typically being very close with their families and friends. The best types of jobs for melancholic people are:
- Social work
Strengths and Weaknesses
While it’s easier to focus on our strengths, we must also remember to keep our weaknesses in mind. Remember, there’s no reason to be ashamed of your weaknesses. In fact, the Bible tells us that we have reason to boast in our weaknesses! Let’s look at the example of Paul.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul writes:
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
In this passage, Paul completely flips the script on what it means to be “weak” and “strong.” In this world, we think of those who possess strength either as people with great physical strength or those who wield tremendous influence. But that’s not what the Bible speaks to! The Bible shows us a different standard.
Paul tells us that God’s strength shines through our weakness. That means when we accept and embrace our weaknesses, we allow God’s power to shine through us. God is more powerful than we could ever be, and if we invite Him into our lives, He will utilize His power on our behalf. That means leaning upon Him, what the world would consider a “weakness,” is actually our greatest strength! We can accomplish anything with God by our side!
No matter how big your God-given mission is, trust that the Lord will see it through to fruition through you!
Chapter 12: What is Your Love Language?
“A friend loves at all times.”
- Proverbs 17:17-
We all have ways in which we process and understand love. The ways that resonate with us can vary greatly from one person to another! These ways are what is known as the love languages: Ways in which we like to give and receive love. Understanding your love language will go a long way in helping you to understand yourself better and thrive in your God-given mission.
Understanding others and your love language is another practical means to understanding your unique mission.
What are the five love languages?
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Physical Touch
- Acts of Service
- Receiving Gifts
Love Languages Show We Understand Each Other
We all have a deep longing to be understood for who we are. You've probably felt it before: sometimes you don't even care if someone likes you, as long as you are understood and respected. If this need to be understood is so strong in casual relationships, how important is it with those closest to us? Love languages show that we understand each other because we have made a special effort to know each other well enough to show our love most powerfully.
This feeling of being understood brings us a deep sense of security, unlike anything we can experience otherwise. We are known and accepted for precisely who we are. Our spouse loves us unconditionally and is willing to show it by speaking into our hearts in ways that are special to us. That brings our love to a whole new level. This same idea of security, commitment, and understanding is true with our friends and family as well.
Love Languages Help Us Meet Each Other's Needs
Being loved is a real need! Never dismiss those feelings of wanting to be loved as secondary or irrelevant. God created us to love and be loved. As a married person, you experience that between you and your spouse. Outside of that relationship, you can still be loved and show others love through the love languages. For example, perhaps your sibling benefits greatly from words of affirmation. Writing them a letter, speaking encouragement into specific areas of their life will make their heart soar.
God calls us to put the needs of others before our own. Philippians 2:3-4 tells us to "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." In EVERY relationship, make love languages a priority.
Love Languages are the Fast Track to Each Other's Hearts
There's no faster way to reach someone than by speaking directly to their hearts. Love languages enable us to do just that. God wired us to have varied responses to different things so that we can complement each other. He wants us to love one another in profound, inspiring ways. The variance in love languages helps us broaden our perspective in showing love, making love even more relevant to our lives.
How Our Love Language Plays Into Our God-Given Mission
Your love language has a lot to say about who you are and the purpose that God has prepared for your life! How? Think about it this way. Living out God’s mission for our lives is all about spreading His love to others. Well, our love language speaks to the way that we best give and receive love as an individual. That means that our love language is very important in pointing us toward how to fulfill our God-given mission!
Let’s say that your love language is words of affirmation, for instance. You will likely thrive in a role that will thrive in giving words of affirmation to others! You personally understand the impact that affirming and empowering words can have in someone’s life, and through that, God has inspired you to speak them into the lives of others. This would naturally land you in the role of a preaching pastor or other type of leader in the church who speaks to the congregation regularly.
Know your love language, and let it point you toward your God-given calling! If you’ve yet to determine your love language, you can find fast, free, and easy tests online. They will help you to quickly determine your love language and enrich your path toward your God-given mission.
Chapter 13: What is Your True Identity?
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
- 2 Corinthians 5:17-
Our Identity in Christ
Becoming a follower of Jesus means that we’ve accepted Jesus into our hearts as our Lord and Savior. When we do that, an incredible transformation takes place within us. Jesus begins to purge all of the sin, destructive habits, and unhealthy patterns that once defined our lives, giving us a clean slate. He helps us to rewrite our identity, not according to the things that once held us back, but according to the design of the Holy God that made us in His image!
That’s where understanding our identity in Christ begins. At the onset of our world, God created everything we know. Humanity was the final touch, placed in creation to love and be loved by the God that made them. That’s the beautiful truth of our existence: We were made from an overflow of God’s love! He brought us forth into the world because He envisioned us, loved us, and wanted to be in a relationship with us.
So, He made us in His image. Being created in God’s image means that He created us with a distinct ability to love because love is His very nature. He created us with the capacity to reflect that love to others and the world that He created us to live in. This is at the root of who we are. We are extensions of God’s love, created for a divine purpose in the world.
But then came the onset of sin. A single deception in the Garden of Eden changed the very course of the world, leading all the way up to today. We now live in a fallen world, a world in which we need a Savior. Our identity is inherently broken because sin has separated from God in a way that we can’t repair on our own strength.
That’s why we need a Savior. That’s why we need Jesus. When we come into faith in Him, the first thing that begins to take place is the restoration of our identity. Our true identity. We weren’t created to be people of this fallen world: We were created to be children of God! We must realize and embrace that this realization of our identity is not running from who we were but returning to who we were always meant to be.
Jesus offers us freedom, the freedom to realize the full extent of the God-given potential that’s been placed within us. When we live by the ways of the world as we did in our life before Christ, what seems like freedom is what is truly holding us back. We are sucked into the meaningless, unfulfilling, and harmful spirals of the world around us. We think we are living and acting in freedom when instead we are merely bound to life-draining sin.
But Jesus comes and breaks those chains. When He does, we no longer have to return to them. We are truly free! He grants us the power to walk forth boldly into the new life He has won for us with His victory on the cross. He has broken the power of sin and death forever, meaning that we are no longer slaves to it. Now, through Him and only through Him, we have the ability to once again walk in our true purpose as children of God.
We are Children of God
First and foremost, your identity and purpose in life must be rooted in the truth that you are a child of God! He created you in His image. He knew you and had a purpose for you before you were even born. Psalm 139:13 tells us that He created us in our mother’s womb. He formed us and fashioned us by His very hand, down to our innermost intricacies.
It’s really quite simple: God made you to love and be loved. We often speak of our relationship with God in Father/child dynamics. Consider for a moment the joy a parent has in simply seeing their child grow and experience their life. The smallest laugh, smile, or accomplishment brings immense joy to a parent.
That’s exactly how God feels about you! He longs to see you grow, thrive, and find fulfillment in life. Not only that, but He desires to walk beside you through every step of that journey in an intimate way. He doesn’t want to sit on the sidelines and watch your life unfold: He wants to actively participate in it with you!
Our faith in Jesus makes that kind of life possible. Galatians 3:26-27 says that through our faith in Christ we are baptized into becoming children of God. Because of what Jesus accomplished on the Cross, we are able to have a personal relationship with God once again. Our status as children of God has been restored and now, we are called to walk in that role.
Our purpose and newfound identity are fueled by our relationship with God. Through Christ and the salvation He has won for us, we now have direct access to God once again through prayer. We have been given the most miraculous and beautiful gift of all: The chance to live out life in a relationship with our Creator. It is a relationship that will come to define our very existence.
Why is that? Because before you were even born, God had a plan and purpose for your life. Through your relationship, He desires to lead you down that path. Just like a parent with their child, He wants nothing more than to see you become everything you can be, everything He created you to become! This is a beautiful adventure that He calls us on, and He beckons us forth to embrace it with all of our hearts.
2 Corinthians 5:17 makes it very clear that our new identity in Christ is a complete transformation. That’s why he so boldly writes that the old person we once knew is gone. God has ripped away the blinders from our eyes, purged us of every impurity that has once held us back, and unleashed the true person within ourselves that He has always destined for us to be. That person is one of unlimited potential in Christ, called to do miraculous and powerful things for God’s Kingdom.
Chapter 14: How do we Pull all This Together Into our God-Given Mission?
Let’s pull all our hard work from Part 2 together to create a single-page God-Given Mission that we can review at the beginning and end of each day to keep us focused on what matters. Make sure that each aspect we have discussed in part 2 of this book is included in some way. Those elements are your backstory, name, temperament, love language, talent, relationships, and identity.
Take your time with this task: This is not something you want to rush! You will be revisiting this God-given mission every day and it will provide the foundation for how you live out and grow in your faith. This mission statement will be of the utmost importance in your life. Craft it through a posture of prayer and ask for God’s guidance in tweaking it and making it perfect.
Here’s an example:
My name is Sarah, and my God-Given mission is to serve God’s Kingdom through the utilization of my gift to lead God’s people in worship. God has given me the gift of guitar, piano, and singing. I commit myself to honor those gifts by putting them to use for the furtherance of the Gospel.
I commit myself to further my gift and developing my skills. I never want to grow stagnant in them because I know that God has given me a great purpose to fulfill through them. I will continue my education in music, devoting an hour a day to practice my instruments and singing.
God has given me a distinct backstory and life experiences that have led me to a love of music. I know that my backstory is a part of the identity God is forging within me, and I plan to write my next chapter according to His will. My temperament, love language, name, and relationships all factor into who I am in Christ and the mission that God has laid before me. I have explored these things to their fullest and will continue to do so as I grow in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.
I am going to walk in my God-given mission. I am blessed to have been given a divine purpose for my life and the skills and experience necessary to live it out. I will do see as I walk in a vibrant, life-giving, and personal relationship with the Lord. Amen.