Identity and Ministry
By Pastor Jong Duterte
For this week, I am forwarding to you an article I received from one of the national leaders of the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies, Pastor Bryan Swash. I was going to write a similar article on identity when I received it in my inbox this morning. His insights on the temptation and identity of Jesus are so relevant that I just thought to directly pass it on to you.
Please take time to read and reflect as we start this week. (Pastor Jong)
Names and labels attached to us, especially in our developmental stage can actually do untold damage on the soul. Fatso, four-eyes, stupid, perhaps it doesn’t take much for you to think about those labels that were assigned to you as a child. And when we leave the schoolyard, we don’t necessarily shed those labels. If we do, we pick up new ones as we move into adulthood, and function in the marketplace.
I’m mindful of the story in Jesus’ life when He at His baptism heard a declaration of clarity concerning His identity. “This is my beloved Son”. And then He goes 40 days into the wilderness. And isn’t it interesting that Satan goes after the very thing that had been clearly declared? And that was the identity of Jesus. “If you’re the Son of God”, “if you’re the Son of God”, “if you’re the Son of God”. No one, nothing was sacred to dismantle the sense of identity. It was the temptation to place identity in false things.
Number one; “if you’re the Son of God, turn these stones into bread”. In other words; appease appetites, solve problems, feed the hungers of others, or even yourself and place your identity in the solving of those needs, hungers and appetites. This is dangerous in ministry, it leads us to becoming people pleasers. We have people all around us that have needs. And as we begin to meet them through our own gifting, and ministry, it’s easy to place our identity and those things. But we become a slave to more expectations, more needs more appetites. And the way we win them, we have to keep going in order to keep them. People pleasing is a dangerous place to be.
And then the second temptation: “stand on the top of the pinnacle of the temple, jump off and let the angels come and rescue you.” That will create shatter as to who you are, the one who can perform the spectacular. There’s the second temptation; to do to achieve to work to labour to accomplish, to produce. It’s the performance addiction. Very dangerous, because here’s what can happen. Number one, it can become intoxicating, where you exhaust yourself in doing and cease to work on being. Number two, what happens when energy is no longer on your side? But there’s now fatigue. And number three, what happens when failures begin to eclipse your successes? Your soul is gutted, and you’re down for the count.
And then the third temptation; “Jesus, look at all the dominions and authorities and power structures of the universe, I will give them to you. If you bow down before me.” The temptation for power is damning to the soul.
People pleasing, performance and power, these are the temptations in which we place our identity, and they can lead to very perilous conditions. We hear it in the conversations among many. What do you do for a living? Performance. How many people are in your church? Performance. Man, I hear that you’ve been invited here, there, and everywhere because you’re an awesome preacher. This is temptations of the soul to place our identity in accolades, applause and the things which intrinsically are separate from us, though they are a part of us. Now, is it not true that people have needs and we should meet them? Yes. Is it not true that our God is a God of miracles? And we want them to see Him perform them to His glory? And to the strength of his church? Yes. Is it not true that we ought to exercise spiritual authority? Without question. But when we tether our identity to these things, we place the ministry in danger, and our souls in danger, and actually the souls of others.
So, let’s be careful where we place our identity, not in people, popularity, not in performance, not in power, and the quest for more, but rather in the intrinsic worth that God through Christ has placed within us. Thanks for taking care of your heart. God bless you. Remember, your Heart Matters. (Bryan Swash, FCA National Elder)