THE WHOLE-HEARTED LEADER
PILLAR 1: IDENTITY
What Can I Learn from the Story of Gideon?
Our Father God has released inside every one of us a part of what He has called us to become. As we develop and mature spiritually, we will display Jesus; however, we will each display Him slightly differently. God wants us to be fully impactful with what He has given us and steward it all well. He wants us to have an awareness of our identity and who He is growing us to be. Because of this, we have hope, that happy confidence of good things coming.
When I think about how God has placed a special identity within each of us, it reminds me of Gideon. I love the story of Gideon. It’s a beautiful picture of how God revealed to Gideon his true identity – which was so very much more than Gideon’s self-perception.
How was God’s identity for Gideon different from his own perceived identity?
Gideon’s story begins in Judges 6. An angel of the Lord came to Gideon and greeted him with some astounding words, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” The angel announced who he was. A mighty man of valor – that is who God said that Gideon was. That is how Gideon was known in heaven.
And yet, none of that had been manifested in his life at that point. And Gideon certainly did not perceive himself as a mighty man of valor. In fact, he questioned the angel – as if the angel had gotten the wrong guy. After all, Gideon wasn’t taking on the Midianites. He was hiding out from them in the winepress.
Gideon tried to explain to the angel the “facts” of the matter, “I’m the youngest person in the weakest clan of the least of all the tribes of Israel.” He didn’t see it. He hadn’t become that yet.
When God said, “Gideon, you’re a mighty man of valor,” He was prophesying Gideon’s identity. The angel was declaring who God already said Gideon was from the moment He created him. He was announcing what was inside of him. That seed that was inside of him, He was calling it forth, prophesying over it and saying, “No, this is who you are. Now whether you manifest it or not, is going to be up to you and your obedience and your faith. But it’s who God says that you are!”
What needed to happen for Gideon’s God-given identity to manifest?
Was Gideon a child of God? Absolutely! But he was also a mighty man of valor, even though he did not realize it before the angel came. Once he received the revelation of his identity, he manifested that by doing things. He became a mighty man of valor by accomplishing things, by listening to the Lord and by obeying Him and by being in a relationship with God. If you go back to the story of Gideon, you’ll see he did amazing things, simply by following the word of God. He stripped down an army of thousands of warriors to just 300 men. They went into a battle that was not supposed to be won the way that it was won. But his identity was already there, buried inside of him, and it just needed to be unlocked with the spoken word from God Himself.
What’s the point of learning my identity?
What I want you to be thinking about is, “God, who do You say that I am?” It’s not what you do. What you do comes out of who you are. Your work, your ministry, your position do not define you; it comes out of your identity. It’s really important for us to rest in who He says we are.
When you know who you are in God, and you know His love for you, He speaks legitimacy, value, love, approval, just because you are His. But then, out of that, there’s more! Just as Gideon’s identity was so much more than he originally realized, there’s more that He says you are. Gideon thought he was a nobody. But God said he was a mighty man of valor. And once Gideon embraced his God-given identity, he went out and became a mighty man of valor. He achieved astonishing things. Don’t limit yourself to who you think you are, or who other people have said you are. Embrace the identity that God placed inside you because it’s so much more than you could imagine.
How do I unpack my identity?
When you are spending time with the Lord, sitting still with the Lord, if there are prophetic words that you have, I want you to go and review them. I want you to ask the Lord, “But who do You say I am?” This is intimate, this is personal.
You know, if you have more than one child, you love each child. Your children each have their own wiring, their own personalities, their own tendencies and quirks and likes and dislikes and you love the complete whole multifaceted people that they are. There’s no need to compare one child with the other, because each child you have is uniquely their own person, and you love them for who they are.
When you are describing your three closest friends, how would you describe them? “She’s loud and she’s funny and she’s creative and dramatic and so smart. You described certain characteristics – certain adjectives – that describe who they are. And you describe another, “He has such a sweet spirit, and such a kind heart, and he’s so thoughtful and detail-oriented and …”
What are some words you use to describe yourself? More importantly, what are some words God uses to describe you? What are those qualities that are the essence of who you are? And how do you grow them and mature them, so they release the fragrance of heaven?
These things that He’s put inside you – you need to embrace and accept these things. Someone might say, “Man! I’m too emotional and too sensitive.” But maybe God did it on purpose because He needs people walking around this planet who have His heart. And that is a primary motivation, that is a gift. But the enemy is going to identify your strengths, and he’s going to try to turn them into weaknesses, by tainting them and twisting them just enough, that you despise the very thing that you’re to use as a gift.
The very part of you that God wants to grow and mature is who we need on the earth. You don’t have to compare or compete or feel that you’re not enough, because God has wired you to be that very special person that He meant you to be. But once you receive that revelation of who He says you are, you need to act on it, just like Gideon did. You need to grow into that identity.
Free to be me!
I want to say this in closing: when I discovered my personal redemptive design, it gave me permission to fully be me. It gave me permission to be as bold as I needed to be. It made me embrace the fact that although I can perceive things as very black and white, right or wrong, He needed to round out my heart, and heal my heart, and grow some things inside of me. There’s a growth in each of these gifts. We grow into our identity by being in relationship with God and listening to the Lord, and by obeying Him and accomplishing the things He gives us to do.
I hear it as permission to be free to be yourself – to be the person God created you to be. You’re not listening to what anybody else says, you’re free of anyone’s opinion of you, including your own opinion.
And again, I don’t want to keep beating this up, but when you say the phrase, “I’m a child of God,” I want you to dig deeper into what it means to be a child of God and a co-heir with Christ. Man! That should wreck you a little bit. The same Spirit of Christ lives within you, the same One that raised Him from the dead lives and breathes and moves inside of you! And if you are free to fully be you, then you are allowed to be as big and as bold as God made you to be!
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