By Josh Prince
“I am who I am because the I Am tells me who I am.” The tag line from a Prince family favorite worship song is more than catchy, it’s impactful. The melody stuck immediately; the truth took a little longer. Amid the temptation of isolation, woefulness, and exhaustion that comes with pastoring, the Lord has been revealing freeing truths. Truths I desperately needed to accept. Truths, I imagine, many pastors and ministers need to accept.
Truth One: You Are a Son
Sitting in a Broken Bow cabin on a recent vacation, I found myself unable to relax. The church wasn’t in shambles, no major decisions were needing to be made, and my phone wasn’t blowing up with notifications. This wasn’t my first vacation as a Senior Pastor, but it was the first one I felt unable to fully enjoy. I was grumpy, a bit irritable (maybe more than ‘a bit’), and distant.
While the cabin was quiet one afternoon, I made use of the opportunity and continued reading Replenish by Lance Witt. Holy Spirit providence used the wise words of Lance in guiding me to recognize my problem: I was focused most on being a pastor. Not that being a pastor was something I didn’t want, but it was presently my chief identity. It was overwhelming.
Lance pointed out the powerful words of God spoken at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Waist deep in the Jordan River with an expectant crowd watching on, the locust eating John baptized Jesus. As Jesus rose from the water, the sky opened, the Spirit descended like a dove, and the proud Father God declared, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.” (Matthew 3:17, CSB) Before His ministry began, God declared the pleasure He had in his Son. There were important tasks for Jesus to complete, but His obedience did not inform His identity. He was the proud Son of a proud Father even before He preached a sermon, healed a leper, or rose from the grave.
Fellow brothers and sisters, we too have a proud Father. You are a son. You are a daughter. You are not a better child because of your vocation. You are not a more loved child because of your accomplishments. You are His and in you He takes delight. He beams at the thought of you. Rejoices in your successes. Comforts you in your failures. Draws near in your brokenness. The eternal identity that we must cling to is that we are sons and daughters of God.
Reminder of my sonship left me encouraged and comforted. In the days ahead, it would help me to refocus on what mattered most.
Truth Two: You Were Formed
Becoming a Pastor was something I ran from for many years, but surrendering to that path in 2019 was majestic. As the Spirit directed me toward my first pastorate, I was ready to see the Lord use me for His glory. In genuine humility, I recognized that the personality, gifting, passions, and grit God had given me were going to be useful at FBC Cedar Hill.
Over the past two years FBCCH has seen God bless us tremendously. During that same time, I have recognized my own immaturities and weaknesses. In reaction, I began to take on a persona that wasn’t authentic; a persona based on reaction and perception. God shapes us through moments of humility, but I was trying to take the carving tools out of His hands. I was trying to make myself into something God had not intended. The more I forced this form, the greater my unhappiness and exhaustion settled in.
Refreshed in my identity as God’s son, another great truth set in: God formed me. With Psalm 139 echoing in my mind, I began to reflect on my God created form. God made me an extrovert. He made me a high I and middle of the pack D. He made me emotional and intuitive. He made me a jokester. He designed me to be energized from teaching His Word and loving His people. God continues to make me into who I need to be for His glory as a husband, father, friend, neighbor, and pastor. I need to surrender to His intended form. As Aubrey Malphurs said, “[To] be most effective, you need to discover your divine design (gifting, passion, and temperament) and minister accordingly.”
God formed you. You are His son. Rest in those truths and walk confidently in those truths. I am who I am because the I Am tells me who I am.
*The views expressed are those solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Pastor’s Common