Last week, we explored some factors that can cause us to feel unworthy to be called by God to do particular tasks or to take on a challenge. We discovered that feelings of unworthiness often surface when our actions contradict our values.
As believers, we strive to follow values consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ. However, since we all fail, at times, it is understandable that when opportunity knocks, we’re afraid to answer. We’re fearful that we won’t measure up or that we’re mistaken about what God wants from us.
Often we feel that our past somehow disqualifies us, while other times we disqualify ourselves because we don’t want to do whatever God is asking us to do. We may feel justified in our hesitation.
In many situations we feel that our unworthiness runs deep. Unworthiness is who we are and not just what we’ve done. It is our identity.
According to the Dictionary of the American Psychologists Association, identity is our sense of self defined by two groups of factor. First, identity comprises our physical, psychological, and interpersonal characteristics that make us unique. Second, our identity comes out of our affiliations, such as ethnicity and our social roles.
Psychologist Erik Erikson is credited for discovering the importance of identity and the crisis that ensues when who we are is uncertain. An identity crisis is characterized by a time of intensive analysis and exploration of different ways of looking at the question “who am I?”
In a Psychology Today article, Kendra Cherry notes, “an identity crisis can occur at any age.” They most often come when facing new challenges and experiences. A frequent challenge in a rapidly changing world. Cherry reminds us that an identity crisis is not an actual psychological diagnosis, however.
In this week’s chapters from our companion book, A Woman of Words, Matthew comes to grips with his new role as bookkeeper for the church in Jerusalem. “I was willing to do whatever He wanted me to do,” Matthew mused to himself, “But I had hoped for a task that would not remind me of my past. I had hoped for a job that reflected my changed character.”
No one patches up an old coat with a piece of new cloth, for the new patch will shrink and make an even bigger hole in the coat.
There was a time in Matthew’s life when money was his primary focus. Money coming from neighbors who couldn’t afford to pay the taxes imposed by Rome. During that time in his life, Matthew took advantage of the unfortunate circumstances of others to enrich himself.
Jesus liberated Matthew from the hold that money had on him. “But He did not liberate your abilities, “ replied Peter, “and I know you are still better at calculations than anyone I could name.”
Instead of punishing him for his past, God used the capabilities that Matthew once used for his own gain to help grow His church.
Jesus reminds us we’re transformed when we come to know Him as our Lord and Savior. But our past doesn’t go away. Instead, experiences become building blocks for new ways of serving His church. We’re given a new identity as a follower of Jesus Christ.
What abilities do you have that may sit on a shelf? How might God help you use your capabilities to help grow His church?
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Our series was inspired by and relies on content provided by Angela Hunt. A Woman of Words. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2021.
“Identity.” APA Dictionary of Psychology. © American Psychologists Association, 2023, Link.
Kendra Cherry, MSEd. Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD. “How to Recognize and Cope With an Identity Crisis.” © VeryWellMind.com, April 11, 2023. Retrieved from: link