2 August, 2021

Claiming the Right Identity

by | 14 July, 2015 | 0 comments

By Mark A. Taylor

It is easy, too easy for me to make my identity all about me. Can you relate?

For example, many of us take identity from our family relationships. (Whose son are you? Which child is yours?)

Or we boost identity with what we can afford to buy or experience. (Is this your new car? You live in that neighborhood? Your cruise lasted how long?)

We claim identity from the title behind our names. (Instructor or professor or dean? Manager or director or vice president?)

But when life changes””and life always changes””when the job ends or the spouse dies or we must start over in a new neighborhood or local congregation, we may feel upended by the challenge of claiming a new identity or refurbishing a former one.

I”ve been thinking about this since the North American Christian Convention, where several speakers challenged my tendency to find identity in the wrong place.

It began with my interview with Caleb Kaltenbach, who cut through some of the current angst and arguments about gay marriage to say he doesn”t believe behavior should be our focus. We must first decide about our identity, he told me. Once we”ve claimed our identity in Jesus, day-to-day decisions and lifetime choices become more certain.

But not easy. If it were easy to keep the focus on Christ and off ourselves, we wouldn”t need challenges like the one offered by Jodi Hickerson.

July14_MT_column_JN2xIn perhaps the most compelling of this year”s NACC messages, Hickerson reminded us that the treasure we offer the world is all from God. We hold it in “fragile and frail” “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

“We”re not that extraordinary,” she said. “The treasure is. . . . I don”t want to offer people the best that I can do. I want to offer them Jesus. Image management is an exhausting idol. My personal awe and wonder for the story of Jesus is my best asset.”

Sean Palmer echoed her theme in the convention”s closing sermon. “If you want to heal a desperate world, all you need is good news,” he said.

“Everything today is about technique and strategy,” he added. “But the New Testament is not full of tips about Jesus, it”s about news, and that news changes everything. . . . All of our speaking will change some things, but only good news changes everything.”

Between these two sermons that week was the quiet and moving testimony from LeRoy Lawson who preached from Psalm 71, which he called an old man”s conversation with God. Lawson, who said he”s been preaching for more than six decades, is convicted by the psalmist”s prayer to God: “I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone” (v. 16).

“I talk too much about myself, my righteous deeds,” Lawson confessed. “And there”s self-deception in that, as if everything has depended on me and my abilities. The more I focus on me, the less room there is for you, God.”

As I wrote when we first posted that video interview with Caleb Kaltenbach, this refined focus””taking our eyes off ourselves, concentrating on Jesus and not our own frantic agendas””has the potential to change every Christian and energize every ministry.

And as I reflect on the witness of these four NACC speakers, I realize what a gift that energy can be for me.


<a href="https://christianstandard.com/author/admin/" target="_self">Christian Standard</a>

Christian Standard

Contact us at cs@christianstandardmedia.com


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Articles


By taking these symbols of Jesus’ body and blood, we announce we believe there really was a Jesus, and he really did die for us and carried all our sins down to a grave . . .

Documentary Highlights Christian Response to Pandemics

Southeast Christian Church’s “Purpose in Pandemics” is a documentary that follows the response of the church to pandemics throughout history. The “Purpose in Pandemics” website also includes a study guide for small groups and individuals.

Used of God

I soaked up Sam Stone’s wit and wisdom during our lunches together. Afterward, I’d take notes about our conversations. After hearing of his passing, inspired by his wordsmithing, I felt compelled to share just a small part of his story.

Sam E. Stone: ‘He Tried to Speak the Truth in Love’

In memory and appreciation of our former editor, Sam E. Stone, who died early this week, we share this 2011 column from Christian Standard’s archives in which Sam discussed four Scripture verses significant to his life.

Elliott Library ‘Cornerstone’ Laid

Three Bibles of historical significance to Cincinnati Christian University were the first books place on the shelves during relocation of the George Mark Elliott Library.

The Death of Evil

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw in minority groups’ struggles for social equality in America a parallel with Israel’s bondage in Egypt. King envisioned God’s goodness would deliver the U.S. from the evil of segregation.

Mark Scott’s Greatest Kingdom Impact

Since I first enrolled at Ozark Christian College, Mark Scott has been my kingdom hero, and I’m not the only young preacher Mark has shaped. Over his 35 years at OCC, Mark has inspired generations of students.

‘Have We Plans for 1921?’

“All the Standard asks is the opportunity to serve, and it yearns to render in 1921 the greatest, finest, and best service of its history. . . .”

CCLF Concluding Strong First Year in Greater Cincinnati

In its first full year, the Christian Church Leadership Foundation has accomplished much to ensure Christian education and resources would continue to be available to people in the Greater Cincinnati area.

News Briefs for Dec. 9

Items from Timber Lake Christian Church (Moberly, Mo.), Choateville Christian Church (Frankfort, Ky.), Johnson University, and more.

My Counsel for Young Preachers

If I were counseling an aspiring young preacher fresh out of Bible college or seminary, champing at the bit to lead in the church, I would offer these three bits of advice.

My Memories of Marshall Leggett

By Ben Merold
As I think about Marshall Leggett, who passed away on March 2 at age 90, two personal experiences keep coming to my mind . . .

Powell Quintuplets Graduating from High School

When the Powell quintuplets were born in 2001, all of Kentucky celebrated, including Southeast Christian Church, where the Powells are longtime members. Now the quints are 18 and are all headed to the same university.

Reentry: It May Be Harder Than We Think

When the COVID-19 crisis eases, I anticipate that reentry is going to be harder than some people think. Churches, especially, need to prepare for this.

An Altar of Earth

We no longer sacrifice burnt offerings on an altar because Jesus came as the ultimate and final sacrifice for our sins. But we should remember an old command as we come before God to worship him.

Aug. 8 | Which Righteousness?

Having called the Galatians back to the true gospel, defended his own apostleship, and having confronted Peter (i.e., Cephas), Paul begins to argue for the gospel of righteousness.

Aug. 8 | Application

A biblical text normally has a single meaning, but it can have many applications. Consider Galatians 2:20 . . .

Aug. 8 | Discovery

What does it look like in the average day of a Christ follower for Christ to live in them?

#Faust25: ‘Jesus’ Hardest Command’

(Another classic piece celebrating David Faust’s 25th anniversary of writing columns.) What is the most difficult thing Jesus ever told anyone to do? That’s the question I asked an adult Bible study group the other day. The people in the room were quick to respond. . . .

Follow Us