We have been talking about persistence over the last two weeks. One of the keys to persistence is our identity. Let me explain what I mean. There are many times where we have already given up before we have begun. The reason is that we did not give ourselves a chance. It goes back to our identity.
Most of us probably recognize the importance of daily Bible reading. Many people struggle with this discipline. They think they are not smart enough to understand everything or that they don’t have the discipline to follow through. That is the problem right there. It is what they believe about themselves. They don’t believe they can, and so they can’t.
If you struggle with the discipline, you need to change your identity. Recognize you are a Bible scholar. You may not be an accomplished Bible scholar, but you are a scholar even if it is at the beginner level.
This principle can be carried into many areas of life – blogging, running, prayer, saving, marriage, parenting, and more. Give yourself some more credit. Don’t let the shortcomings of the past define you. Give yourself a new identity to define your future.
You can see this in regards to other people. We have a way of putting labels on people. A teacher might put a label on one student as being a poor student. That label is reinforced in other ways. The student continues to perform poorly. Another student is labeled as a good student. The label is reinforced. The student continues to excel.
Mastery of any skill takes a lifetime. You will likely never be the most accomplished person in any given area. There will always be someone smarter, faster, more knowledgeable, and more informed than you. Just because someone is more accomplished in a given area, does not take away from your accomplishments.
If you are going to put in the hard work to master a skill, you are going to need to start out with the right identity. If you have already convinced yourself you will fail – you will. The first hardship will come along, and you will give up. You have already identified yourself as one who will fail. The opposite is if you identify yourself as someone who will succeed. When the first hardship comes along, you will push through because you know it is just a bump in the road. Your identity determines the way you look at things. What one person sees as a dead end, another person simply sees as a challenge to overcome.
There is this idea called imposter syndrome. It is when we are convinced that we don’t belong and that we are in over our head. Our confidence wavers. We think everyone will learn we are a phony. Here is a little secret you need to know. You are not alone with these feeling of insecurity. Every Sunday I get up to preach before my congregation, I think to myself, “who am I that anyone would come to listen to me?” I worry I don’t belong. But then I go back and remember it is not about me. It is about the ability of God to work through me.
God made you who he made you to be. See yourself as God sees you. He sees you as someone who is especially gifted and talented. He sees you as someone he put here for a reason. He does not see you as an imposter but as a valuable contributor to his mission.
We look at the disciples. He entrusted his mission to fishermen. It was not the people we would have expected to have been given such an important role. They were not accomplished theologians or preachers. But what they had was the gift of the Holy Spirit. Remember what Jesus said:
“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19 (ESV)
The first thing he did before anything else was give them a new identity. They were not just fishermen. They were fishers of men! It was through these men that Jesus changed the world forever. So give yourself credit. If God can use those guys, he can use you.
Questions for Reflection
- Where do you need a new identity?
- Do you believe your identity will influence your actions? Why or why not?
- Who do you need to encourage to believe in themselves more?
- Share your comments.