PILLAR 1: IDENTITY
Who you are is who God says you are, and that can never be taken away from you. With that truth in mind, how do we live out our identity? How do we move forward in who God says we are? As we consider this question, we’re going to look at places where our identity comes from, and the ways our legitimacy is tied in with our identity. Finally, we’ll discuss how we can grow up into our God-given identity.
What are some places where I get my identity?
The world is going to put some places on you where you get your identity, such as your career, or your ministry. Your family definitely impacts your identity – fathers, especially, speak identity over their children. In your relationship with your earthly father, he (hopefully) provided for you, protected you and spoke words of identity over you. That’s the role of a father. Likewise, our heavenly Father provides, He protects, and He also speaks identity.
The identity that your earthly father spoke over you may or may not have been accurate. He may have spoken careless words, he may have spoken hopeful words, but his words were based on his humanly-limited understanding of you and his understanding of God. It’s what your heavenly Father says about your identity that you need to cling to because your true identity is who you are out of a relationship with Him.
What is the role of legitimacy in my identity?
Ultimately, when we’re unpacking our identity, what we’re looking at is our value and our worth. We’re looking at our approval and we’re looking at legitimacy. When you are a legitimate child, you are recognized or “owned” by a family—meaning you are a legal child, you are in right standing, you are a true child versus an illegitimate child. So, our legitimacy is tied up with approval, value, and worth.
If you are constantly seeking legitimacy in other places – if you find your identity in your position or a title that you have or in your behavior or the performance that you do, you’re going to get lost at some point, because those things are shifting, those things can be taken away. They speak to things that you can do, how you can serve, but they don’t speak to who you are, deep inside.
What are some of the legitimacy lies I might believe?
Have you ever had the thought, “I’ll be legitimate one day when…” or, “I’ll be good enough when…” or, “I’ll finally arrive when…” or “I’ll finally be able to live when…”?
I hear this many times: “I’ll be legitimate when I get married…then I’ll be complete…then I’ll have value and worth.” “I’ll be legitimate when I can have a child and be a mother.” “I’ll be legitimate when I graduate from college and get that degree.” “I’ll be legitimate when I get that license.”
Another thing we might say is, “I’m not legitimate because…” or, “I’m not approved because of things in my past.” What are some of the lies you believe about things in your past? Do you feel disqualified because of something that happened?
We have to get rooted and grounded in discovering the fullest of who we are. So what are these legitimacy lies that we believe? Some of them – it’s like we put things off into the future, and we’re living in the future and projecting our identity into that future position.
So, you don’t want to live in the future too far. It’s okay to plan for your future, and you want to have a vision, for sure. But you don’t want to be in a state of limbo, having your identity defined by the person you might become. Likewise, you don’t want to live in the past, considering yourself illegitimate because of what might have happened long ago. You want to live right here, right now. You want to learn from the past, and you want to be planning and casting vision for the future, but you want to be living right here. What is your clear understanding of who you are, right now, as well as who you are becoming?
How do I grow up into my God-given identity?
If the Father resources us, if the Father gives us identity, and we’re a child of God, then there’s something about growing up into our identity, because we don’t all stay children. Am I still a child of God when I’m 90 years old? Yes! It’s like our kids, they will grow up, but they’ll still be our children, no matter what their age. So we can use the term “child” to define a person’s position in relationship to their parents – their legitimacy and who they are – their identity. But we also use the word “child” to refer to the age and maturity of a person. And children are supposed to develop and grow up into their identity.
So, even though I am a child of God, I don’t want to stay childlike. I want to mature and I want to grow up into my identity. I have some kids that are transitioning right now from elementary into middle school and one from middle school into high school, and there are transitions that we go through in every phase of life. And the Lord wants to take us from glory to glory.
As we mature, as the Lord moves us from glory to glory, we get a revelation of a different layer, a different level of our identity. Our confidence begins to grow. Our authority begins to grow because we’ve become more self-aware of our identity, of who we are, and how we are – how God made us and what He’s put inside us. We’re growing in our knowledge of our own personal gifting and our own “gift-mix,” because of the way that God has colored us.
As we grow in our understanding of how God has gifted us and how He has created our own unique identity, then we grow in realizing how we’re supposed to do things in the world, how we follow through. Those positions and roles and places of leadership – all of those areas are coming out of who God says we are, and our identity flows out of our legitimacy in Him.
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