Throughout this month in chapel we have been talking about Identity, who you are, whose you are, who names you, and the work required to answer any of the above. To some, the focus on identity can seem a bit egocentric as it does require a good hard look at your own life and a significant amount of time spent with yourself. However it is not wasted time and energy, for without this focus it is difficult to step into your true calling. Without knowing what of “you” is God-given and what is world-shaped you may end up chasing after things that will never satisfy. And if your identity is buried under layers of lies, wounds, and misinformation you will caste more of your shadow than your light into whatever work that you do.
Several years ago I made an honest assessment of my identity, the good, the bad and the in-process. It took pages of mental meandering to begin but in the end I was able to narrow it down to one very honest paragraph.
I’m normal. I struggle and I sometimes succeed. I doubt and I trust. I love and sometimes people make me crazy. I’m open and yet stubborn, honest and yet a master at self-deception. I’m generous and I’m materialistic, gracious and stingy. I know that within me there is an eager child, a peer-driven adolescent, a loving wife, a mother who has yet to have children, an impatient pastor, a passionate evangelist, a child who is just getting to know her father, a reconciler, a vagabond of the obvious, and both a workaholic and the laziest person I know. I am all of these things and more. But the thing I would like you to know most about me is that I am seeking to understand what it means to be a child of God, fully known and fully loved.
This paragraph has helped me to claim what I know and to be honest that there remains so much that is a mystery to me. It has allowed me to claim my goodness and acknowledge my growing edges. It has helped me define my “yes” and my “no” when people invite me into new work and it has given me direction as I seek to understand how God is inviting me to engage with his world and all his people with in it.
The apostle Paul wrote in the opening of his letter to the Romans, “I am a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.” He was a man who knew who he was and to whom he belonged, the call upon his life and the good news that this calling would be to the world. He was able to claim his identity in less than a sentence.
This week I encourage you to write a statement about your identity, an honest assessment of who you are and to whom you belong, where or how you believe you are called and what that means for the world around you. You might not be able to do that in less than a sentence, I know it took me an entire paragraph but I invite you to begin the process. I truly believe that if each of us steps into this difficult work that we at North Park University will have a far better chance of stepping into our true calling and a good shot at casting more of our light than our shadow.
This morning, Larry Acosta will deliver the final message in our series on Identity. He is the President and Founder of the Hispanic Ministry Center, Urban Youth Workers Institute. Larry's passion is to envision and shape the emerging generation of urban leadership for transformational ministry. Larry’s claim to fame is that he is married to his lovely wife Jayme and they have four wonderful children. He is a leader who knows the specifics of who he is and how he has been called and as a result his ministry casts far more light than shadow.
Join us this morning as we continue to figure out our true identity.