Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Have an Identity Crisis!

fingerprint by luigi diamanti

image courtesy of luigi diamanti / freedigitialphotos.net

“I have watched you mature so much over the course of our friendship.” “She’s just trying to figure out who she is.” “He’s changing a lot.” “I don’t really know who she is anymore.” “He’s growing up.” All familiar phrases I have heard people say about me and about others they know and love. Many times, the loved ones they’re talking about have gone through a self- or otherwise-proclaimed identity crisis.

What is an identity crisis? Google says an identity crisis is “a period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person’s sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society.” I can agree with most of this definition, but as a follower of Christ, I add to the end—“which can be resolved when I recognize, understand, and believe who I am in Jesus Christ.” And if my definition is true, then we perhaps all need to have an identity crisis.

In looking back at my life, I realize that I have had different separate identity crises in three areas of my life, all of which led me closer to Jesus Christ. Because of this, I think that believers may find several times when they have had an identity crisis—affecting the following three key areas in their lives:

Spiritual (Spirit)—What is your worldview? Every believer has an identity crisis when they first become a Christian. If you are a Christian, you know what that feels like, how that affects you. When I received Christ as my Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit was given to me to guide, correct, and comfort me. God’s presence in my life shifted my worldview from me-centered to God-centered. I began to look at myself, others, and everything I experienced in a different way (Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 5:17). I continue to have these spiritual crises as I grow in the Lord.

Physical (Body)—What is your physical features, your body, your appearance? Some people constantly have an identity crisis about who they are physically. When your appearance changes, people notice—then they say something, and we are reminded of who we are physically. I grew up in a family of good eaters (and good cooks!) who struggle with their weight, which has caused me to be constantly in crisis about who I want to be physically and who I actually am physically. The Word of God had to penetrate my heart about how God viewed my body and how I should see it, too (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Romans 12:1, Genesis 1:27).

Emotional (Mind)—What is your mindset? Your emotional identity includes not only what you think but how you think. As Sai Baba said, “All action results from thought, so it is thoughts that matter.” Currently, this is where God is changing my identity the most. I am in constant crisis as I struggle to change my thinking patterns to those that glorify God. And I know this is important to God, because He speaks so much about our thoughts in His Word (Romans 12:2, Romans 8:5-6, Philippians 4:8)!

Praise God we are more than even the sum of these parts and that we are His children, no matter where we are or what kind of identity crisis we may experience!

Have you had an identity crisis lately? If not, perhaps that is what you need to begin living the abundant life God has in store for you!

What kind of identity crises have you experienced in your life?

Motivation: Encouragement

encourage button by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

Everyone has an exhorter friend: the guy that everyone loves; the chatty Kathy that is the “life of the party.” Exhorters are people people: they communicate well, have a large network, and are skilled at creating and sustaining relationships. They open their hearts and lives to others and use practical application to help others grow. Everyone loves the exhorter, and the exhorter loves everyone (mostly because they don’t like being rejected). And the exhorter’s primary motivation is encourage, comfort, and counsel others, becoming all things to all people in the good sense like the apostle Paul.

Because their motivation gives them incredible leverage in relationships, exhorters must learn to use their gift to produce long-term life changes, not just short-term changes that produce no real change. We can help our exhorter friends to stay on the lookout for several snares of their gifting:

  • Being masters of manipulation. Having such a great rapport with others can tempt exhorters to use their gift to control others. This is especially clear in the immature exhorter, who will win the trust of others and then use it to their own advantage. I had an exhorter friend who loved being the center of attention; however, after she gained your trust, she would use her perceived “power” in her relationships to alienate those by whom she felt threatened. Exhorters must be vigilant that they do not use their gifts for manipulation but instead remain godly and trustworthy for use by God.
  • Living in denial. Exhorters sometime have difficulty accepting personal responsibility for their own failures. Here, the master of manipulation can try to dominate even God Himself. The same exhorter friend who was a master of manipulation struggled with seeing her own faults, even when pointed out in love. Exhorters must learn that “living off their personality” is not what God has called them to do; God has instead called them to flow in the power of the Holy Spirit, which means admitting their wrongs and confessing them to receive forgiveness. (If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9)
  • Relying on their own understanding. Exhorters who experience success in comforting and encouraging others may begin to lean on their own understanding of others’ problems and issues, instead of the Holy Spirit. They may begin to apply non-Scriptural principles to a situation or try to simplify a problem with an easy solution. Exhorters must remember God does not always give cut and dry answers, and most importantly, that they must rely on the Holy Spirit in times when understanding is limited. (Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5)

When walking in fulfillment, exhorters are destined to have influence over great numbers of people, like the apostle Paul did. As a part of the body of Christ, we can help our exhorter friends to avoid traps that can lead them away from God’s calling on their lives.

What positive traits do you see in your exhorter friends? How can you encourage them to avoid the pitfalls discussed above?