Welcome guest post contributor Ryan Braught. Ryan works as a church planter in Lancaster, PA. I met Ryan in college, and later found out that he went on to get his Masters of Arts in Religion at the same seminary a few years ahead of me. Evangelical Seminary now offers a new and fantastic Masters of Arts in Christian Leadership, a unique hybrid program combining online and on-campus studies and has partnered with Messiah College, Lancaster Bible College, and Asbury Seminary to extend their educational programs. Today, Ryan shares about the challenges of ministry and identity. Thanks, Ryan!
For the last two and half years I’ve been planting Veritas, a missional community in Lancaster, PA. There are various challenges in this.
There’s the challenge of developing a Core Group for Veritas. There’s the struggle of seeking to do church in a whole new way in an area that has a fairly traditional view of what church is. There’s the challenge of balancing 4 part time jobs between my wife and me, a free lance job, two kids and keeping up with everything that comes with running a household. But the biggest challenge that I have been faced with revolves around the issue of identity.
All too often, whether in planting a new faith community, or just in life, we define ourselves by what we do. And we define our self worth from what we do, and whether we are “successful” or not. Maybe men do this more.
If I’m honest with myself, my self worth all too often is tied into how I perceive things are going. If we have a good Sunday, as far as numbers (even though we seek to define success by other metrics) I feel good about myself. If we have a bad Sunday, as far as numbers go, I feel horrible about myself and want to throw in the towel and give up. The biggest challenge I believe, at least for me, in this planting journey has been to remember this phrase, “It’s not what I do, it is about whose I am.”
Scripture says this about me, “he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:5), and “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”(Romans 8:15). Too often I say to myself (or Satan says) the very opposite of these words. I forget that I am a child of the King and that I am loved, not for anything that I can do, have done, or will do. I am loved period.
One thing that stuck from my years at seminary that has helped me confront this problem of identity is this simple statement, “There is nothing you can do to make God love you any less. There is nothing you can do to make God love you any more.” My identity is not in being a church planter, a father, a husband, or anything else that I try to define my worth in. My struggle is to remember that, and place my identity in the fact that I am a child of the Heavenly Father.
Have you ever struggled with identity based on what you do?