Jesus was called all sorts of things. He was called a drunk. He was called a glutton. He was called a sinner. He was accused of invoking the power of Beelzebub. Religious leaders and others with agendas tried to label him, but it never seemed to phase him. I believe this is because he knew who he was.
At the launch of his earthly ministry, after his baptism, Jesus rises up from the waters of the Jordan River and immediately the heavens opened. The Spirit of God came upon him as a dove and the Father spoke, testifying for all to hear (but especially for Jesus), “This is my Son. With him I am well pleased!”
It’s important to note that Jesus had not yet done anything. The Father’s pleasure was not with what Jesus does, but with who he is. From that point on, Jesus knew his identity and nothing the world or the religious leaders could throw at him would change that.
The same is true for you if you are in Christ. Pastors and church leaders are often targets for complaints and maligning. We are called all kinds of things and can endure some of the worst gossip (yes, in the church) the world has to offer. Powerbrokers and others with agendas may try to defame you, isolate you or ruin your reputation. But if you know who you are (and Whose you are), it does not have to phase you. Pastor, you and I are children of God! The apostle John reminds us,
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.(1)
I have found that the biggest challenge a pastor faces is almost always grounding his or her identity firmly in Christ and Christ alone. It is “American” to find our identity in what we do. In fact, the very first question Americans ask someone they meet for the first time is “What do you do for a living?” But followers of Jesus must find their identity in him. Our respective roles ebb and flow, rise and fall — and when ministry gets painful and messy (and it always has such seasons!), our identity is challenged or crushed if it’s founded in our job. But for those whose identity is in Christ — the rock of our salvation — the difficult and painful times may come but our foundation is steadfast. People can try to label us in many different ways, but it cannot stick because our true identity is in someone more loving and powerful than anything the world or hell can manufacture.
Are you struggling right now? Have you been targeted? Would you like to ensure that your own identity is steadfast so you can not just endure, but flourish in the storms of ministry? I’d love to chat with you. Use the Contact feature on this website and let’s set up an appointment. And if you find these posts helpful, would you please forward them on to a friend? I’d appreciate it.
(1) The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984 (1 Jn 3). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.