My identity was stolen this summer… or so I thought. I was asked to give up my long-time job as a flight nurse, I left willingly…. to another RN job in the hospital. Then I was asked to give that up too. I left willingly, but with a LOT of trepidation. I consider myself I pretty open book, but through this summer, I came to realize just how much of my self-worth, my identity… in short, my ego… was wrapped up in my nursing career.
I think it’s not necessarily a bad that this is so. After all, many of us have spend years of blood, sweat, tears, (and money!) to get where we are. If you’re anything like me I take a lot of pride in my education, my skills, and my experience. For me, nursing is by far the most visceral way I can minister the Gospel of Jesus to people. I very much think that those in the medical field have anointing on their hearts and hands to potentiate the healing of Jesus. It’s a Calling just like any other.
I love being a nurse. I love helping people. I love being identified as a healer.
But sometimes God has other plans, other jobs, another identity for us to take on. Because, ultimately what I’ve been learning is that my identity, the permanent mantle I should carry around, is that I’ve a servant of God. A bondservant in His kingdom.
We have often read about the term Doulos, from the Greek meaning a bondservant or slave. In ancient times a bondservant was a person who willingly chose to stay as a servant to their master. Of their own free-will, not being bound by pre-conditions or indentured qualifications, these people determined to stay with their master and continue to serve him. For life. And not even really as a ‘servant’ in the typical sense of the word, they identified themselves as slaves to their master. They chose to belong, to be owned, by their masters; to be exclusively a part of that household and family. Often this decision was marked in a very physical way with a nail through the ear of the servant. This was such common practice that God set forth instructions on how to do this (Exodus 21:5-6). (There is a fascinating and well-researched article on this at Grace To You if you want to read more.)
As Christians, part of that decision involved choosing to come under the household of the Almighty. To belong to His family, putting aside our will, our ideas of how things should go, our very selves. Our own identities were killed and we put on the mantle of our new identity in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old has gone, the new has come!
But what of this new ‘identity’ we find looking back at us in the mirror?
Mine was a nurse… for years. Mine still is a mother, a wife, a daughter, a member of Covenant Baptist Church, etc. etc. But what happens when God takes a part of our identity back? What do we do with that blank space?
What would a servant do when his master no longer wants him to be the gardener and has now placed him as head cook? Or butler? Or toilet cleaner? Is his identity not still a doulos? Is he not still serving the same household? Is his title not still exactly the same?
Too often we hold too tightly to what our identity is. We’ve grown comfortable in the shoes God’s given us to fill…. for a season…
As bondservants in God’s kingdom, I imagine that our Master will ask (or make!) us wear many hats of service to Him. It may involved getting transferred into a job that we have no experience in, no schooling for, no skills whatsoever in (think Gideon, Moses, Joseph…) Because of this we cannot ever allow ourselves to think our identity, our self-worth, our ego- is chained to our current job or parenthood or spouse. You get the idea. Rather our identity is chained to Christ- as a member of His family, under His umbrella and protection, furthering His kingdom.
In the end, I’m learning that what I’m asked to do by God is not nearly important as the fact that I’m actually doing it. My identity is in HIM- as a daughter, a helper, a friend, a servant, a slave to Jesus. I was a nurse for a season, now He’s gearing me up for something different. I had to let that part of myself go- that identity. But the amazing thing is that I’ve learned my true identity never changed, even within this season of change. It remains steadfast and strong.
I am slave to Christ.
Matthew 25:23 His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.