The caption reads:

Tradition

Just Because You’ve Always Done It That Way Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Incredibly Stupid.

Ya, I’m into adventure but I’m not stupid (most of the time). No running of the bulls for me. I’ve been a pastor and have been gored plenty of times to know it’s a horrible feeling!

I’ve been talking about guys having a definition of life that makes Biblical sense. I’ve offered up this:  Life is a gift to enjoy and an adventure to embrace. I like it and want that to be my real definition of life…but the fact is that it hasn’t been the definition that I’ve lived with most of my adult life. My traditional definition of life has been more like…Life is an identity to achieve. I did it that way for a long time…and it was incredibly stupid.

How about you? What was/is your definition of life? What’s been pulling or pushing you forward in life? Identity? It’s typical for us guys.

Here’s my story: I grew up feeling like I was a nobody, but deep within, like everyone else, I had a natural aversion to that feeling, and so I had to become a somebody because being a nobody feels awful. And somebody’s are made, not born, right? To become a sombeody I figured I had to achieve something big enough to warrant the right to exist with the title of: Somebody.

Performance

Accomplishment in some area. Perfection to some degree in some field. All of that leads to recognition, right? And with recognition, you gain an identity. A solidness of being. Gravitas. Whatever…when you achieve, you feel good about yourself, right?, and you gain a sense of identity.

Maybe, but it’s not an identity that lasts. When I  became a Christian I found that an identity was given to me…I was a forgiven and dearly loved son! That identity was given to me based on the performance of someone else, Jesus, and I didn’t and couldn’t do anything to accomplish that identity! Solidness of identity came from accepting that identity.  And life was good, radically good…for awhile…until I saw how performance oriented the Christian world was and how we rewarded our superstars for being…super. The more super you were, the more you were rewarded, and my still immature heart longed for that. Honest truth…I was sucked into the performance trap with the lure of gaining public approval/identity for what I did. Boy, did that tap into my fallen manhood issues! I became a pastor; what better means was there of gaining recognition and God’s people will have to love me. Some did…but not all. What was I, crazy? Did I really believe everyone would love me and affirm me? Even after Jesus said that those who follow Him will have a good bit of trial and conflict, especially leaders? Yes…yes…stupid me.

With this chosen path of identity achievement now I was only as good as my last sermon, planning meeting, counseling session, or successfully launched program. Those idols turned on me; just about killed me. The performance mentality in ministry didn’t achieve for me a lasting solid identity but fueled insecurity as well as sleepless nights and a stomach tied in knots. I’d lived life that way for a lot of years. It was my tradition…and yes, incredibly stupid.

In later years, I’ve been drifting back to a more simpler means of gaining a masculine identity…being a forgiven and dearly loved son

17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 1:17-18

The Cross of Jesus is all about substitution. He hung where I should have hung. And therein is the power. Jesus endured the guilt-taking, shame-feeling, alienation-experiencing, punishment-receiving that was really mine. And of course, yours. In return for God giving us faith to trust Christ, He made us sons. The pressure’s off kind of sonship. Which has made all the difference. New creature. New life. Free to cross over to the adventure of living again with nothing to lose and nothing to prove.

If you’ve been following the tradition of life as an identity to achieve, ditch it. It stinks.

Cross back over from identity-achieving to identity-receiving. Look at the Cross and your Lord. And relax.

The more you relax in who you now are as a deeply loved son, the more rested you’ll become, and start itching for the adventure again.

It starts at the Cross.

You Take It To Heart…

 


 

Click here to listen to Pete on this week's KeyLife where he speaks on "How Grace Builds Men"