I love watching preschool graduations. Precious chubby-faced kids with caps and gowns typically take turns declaring to beaming parents and grandparents what they want to be when they grow up. “A fireman.” “A ballerina.” “A baseball player and an astronaut.” “A mommy.” “A zookeeper and a policeman.” Nothing is impossible or unattainable. Everything has potential. If you asked the same kids in a year, you’d often find they’re now considering completely different careers. Kids have the amazing ability to put on and change identities as often as they change their socks and underwear!
When do we outgrow the willingness to try on new identities? Exactly when did that become “immature” and “foolish?” As adults, we often buy into the mindset of “that’s just who I am,” as if our identity is set and cannot be changed. While there are parts of our identities that should not be changed, like being children of God, there are many more parts of our identities that should change as we become more like Jesus for the sake of others. The part of us that rejoices when our enemies suffer, the secret joy we feel at the expense of others when we get our own way, and the annoyance we express when someone travels too slow in the fast lane are all parts of our identity that God wants to cleanse and refine. They hold us back from being the people He has created us to be.
Who do you want to be when you grow up? Who did God create you to be? Do you want to be a leader who is creative? Innovative? Hope-filled? Strategic? Is God calling you to be patient? Loving? Forgiving? Do you desire to be deeply rooted in your faith? Actively engaged in the community? A person of bold prayer? Try on that new identity! Act in a way that creates and confirms those attributes within you.
When faced with a decision, ask yourself, “What would a ____________ person do?” If you want to be a creative person, ask yourself, “What would a creative person do?” If you want to be actively engaged in the community, ask yourself, “What would a community activist do?” If you desire to be more loving, ask yourself, “What would a loving person do?” As you try on new attributes God desires for you and act in a way that is in accordance with this identity, you begin to shape your life into the person God is calling you to be.
You might think it can’t be just as easy as asking a question. But it often is. Here’s why: most of us know far more than we put into practice. We get into habits of operating and thinking based on an identity of who we are now and what we have done in the past. We find comfort in these old ways of operating and find it challenging to think from a new point of view. But Jesus didn’t come to make us comfortable, He came to set us free. He came so that we could be free to shed our old identities and try on a new one that looks like and leads like Him.
Do you want to be the leader you were made to be? Try on a new identity and become more like Christ for the sake of others!
This article appeared in the August 2019 edition of the South Georgia Advocate.