This article originally appeared on Via (June 21, 2023) by Ted Shimer
Have you ever made a list of your discipleship essentials? What are those key qualities and convictions that you see as non-negotiables to build into the lives of those you disciple? What’s on your shortlist?
After 32 years of college ministry, I’m more convinced than ever that identity in Christ must be on my shortlist. From what I’ve seen, the secure laborer who has their confidence, significance, and worth rooted in who they are in Christ are typically more fruitful and last longer than those who don’t. The secure laborer is a stronger leader, better relationally, and more dependent on God than the laborer who gets their identity and significance from their own performance and the opinions of others.
One of my mentors through the years in campus ministry has been Mike Hearon. Mike was one of the founding fathers of Campus Outreach and was on staff for 39 years. Mike wasn’t just fruitful in multiplying laborers or even teams of laborers; he multiplied regions of laborers. Mike shared with me the results of a study CO did several years ago about the key qualities that the most fruitful Regional Directors had in common. There were two key qualities they each had, and one of those was that these leaders were self-differentiated: they could distinguish between themselves and their performance (success or failure) and acceptance.
They were secure. Their security meant they were willing to risk and lead courageously instead of being held back by the fear of failure. They weren’t people pleasers which helped make them bold and decisive leaders that others wanted to follow. They could take feedback and criticism instead of getting defensive. These directors were more vulnerable and real instead of trying to manage an image. These qualities are the fruit of someone living out of their identity in Christ. The data from Mike’s research reinforced what I have observed through decades of ministry: living out of our identity in Christ is powerful.
Identity is one of those topics that is much easier to have head knowledge about than it is to live out practically and daily. That’s what makes the book of Ephesians so amazing. Paul not only unpacks the beauties of our position in Christ, but he also gives practical instructions to make walking in our identity in Christ a lifestyle.
What Paul says about identity is so revolutionary that he actually stops twice during the writing of this letter to pray that his audience would get it. He says if they truly comprehend it, they will “be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:18-19). Do you want your life and the lives of those you lead to be filled with all the fullness of God? This should motivate us to understand more completely our identity in Christ and how to live it out. “Sit Walk Stand: Living Out Your Identity in Christ in a Sexualized Culture” is a six session video Bible Study in Ephesians. Paul not only explains the truths about our position in Christ, but he gives practical steps to make living out our identity in Christ a lifestyle. The leader’s discussion guide makes it easy to lead a small group or an individual through the study. Check out the trailer and the entire series here. https://thefreedomfight.org/sit-walk-stand/