In a world where success is measured by what a man accomplishes, it is possible for pastors and church leaders to find their identity in what they have achieved. When this happens, an insatiable longing to be recognized becomes the goal and focus in ministry. This sinful desire puts leaders on a dangerous path that hinders them from faithfully leading the people they have been called to shepherd.
Hence, there is a need for ministers to have a biblical understanding on how their identity in Christ shapes their leadership. I have observed that when a leader’s identity is rooted in Christ, his preoccupation will not be on self but on the glory of God and the good of others. This awareness enables him to serve and love even those who have caused him much pain. Ajith Fernando notes, “Sometimes our crises can become opportunities for a fresh experience of the glory of God’s affirmation. Human rejection can become an opportunity to experience the depth of divine acceptance. Then the thrill of being ministered to by God more than compensates for the pain that people inflict on us.” (Fernando, 2002, 57). It is interesting to note that God allows His servants to experience low points in their lives for them to realize that their identity should not be based on what they do for Him but on what He has done for them in Christ. Fernando states, “Our ministry is primarily not a reaction to the anger and rejection of people. It springs from God’s acceptance of us as His valued servants and the filling by the Spirit to meet the challenges that we face” (Fernando, 2002, 39).
Since ministry can be messy and challenging, there is also a need for every pastor to diligently cultivate his inner life. This requires commitment to spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting, worship, Scripture meditation and memorization. Fernando observed, “When we come into the presence God, rather than feverishly trying to solve our problems, we begin to look at things from God’s perspective and our perspective changes” (Fernando, 2002, 67). Those moments with God remind us how our identity in Christ transforms the way we respond to challenges in life. I pray that our identity in Christ would always be the anchor that keeps us steady when the waves of despair and sorrow become too strong for us to bear.