One of the biggest buzzwords of this generation is undoubtedly IDENTITY. We've all asked ourselves, "who am I?" or "what makes me me?"
Think for a minute about the way you introduce yourself. For example, last Sunday this was how I identified myself.... "My name is Bethany and I'm the class coordinator for preschool and pre-k." In a brief conversation with a parent I identified myself by my role in the church. Obviously that was a time when focussing on that aspect of my identity was important as the parent needed to know why I was squatting down to greet their child. But too often in ministry we identity ourselves solely by our ministry.
There was a point, not too long ago where I saw little identity other than children's ministry. I was single, childless, and had been serving in the same role for many years. From the moment I woke up until the moment I went to bed at night I was nothing more than Bethany, Children's Ministry Director. I often felt out of place or even invisible in adult settings. I would look for a child to talk to, or find a way to serve because just being there felt weird. I had forgotten who I was outside of children's ministry, and was looking for that role to be my everything. I quickly had to come to see that I am so much more than children's ministry.
I'm sure I'm not alone in this. Oftentimes in children's ministry we can feel isolated and turn all of our focus on who we are into what we do in the church. We're often busy before and after church services, so it's hard to connect with people. We're often downstairs, on another hall, or otherwise separated from most of the adults in the church. We may miss announcements, and feel like we don't really know what's going on. So, we just throw ourselves more and more into our ministry.
If you find yourself in that situation, please stop (even before reading on) and acknowledge these feelings to God, and then make a plan to talk about them with a pastor or elder in the church. Make sure someone knows how you're struggling and ask them to hold you accountable in this area.
And then, consider these Biblical truths when you find the focus of your identity being taken away from Christ, and focussed solely on your role in the church.
Go Back to the Beginning - On the first page of the Bible we read in Genesis 1:27 that we were made in the Image of God. Man and woman were the pinnacle of God's good creation and we were made to image Him to the world. Think about your image bearing and how you can be more intentional with how you point others (not just kids) to Christ.
So, what is my identity? I am an image bearer of God.
Remember my Salvation - In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we're reminded that all who are in Christ are new creations. I have been made new in Christ. I am alive in Christ and made new because of Him. Stop and pray, thanking God for the work He did in your life because of Jesus.
So what is my identity? I am new.
Be a Child - In John 1:12, we read that those who believe on the name of Jesus are given the rights of children of God. We all know children and what it means to be someone's child. We see children and their parents every day or week. The next time you're questioning your identity, think of the three year old running through the door to daddy's waiting arms and run to your Father, knowing your are accepted and His.
So what is my identity? I am a child of God.
Focus on my Righteousness - In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we're reminded that all who are in Christ are the righteousness of God because of Jesus' work on the cross. Christ exchanged our sin for His righteousness and we have been saved. And this was not of my own doing (not because of my role in children's ministry), this was solely a work of Jesus.
So what is my identity? I am righteous.
Love the Body of Christ - 1 Corinthians 12 talks about the church as the body of Christ and the importance of the body working together to the glory of God. As children's ministry teachers and leaders we know our roles well, but think about how your role in ministry is loving the body as a whole and consider other 'body parts" you embody. We are all "ears" listening to the Word being taught, we are all "arms" hugging the hurting amongst us, we are all "hands" serving in various capacities, and so much more. Look for ways to love the rest of the body.
So why is my identity? I'm a member of the body of Christ.
My prayer is that this week you'll be encouraged in your ministry and that you'll find great joy serving the children of your church knowing that your identity is solidly in Christ and not only in the work that you do.