Fighting Identity

When God gives us a new name, will we walk in it or run back from it?

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Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
-Genesis 32:28

Somewhere after the zeal of new-found salvation wore off and before the growing pains of discipleship formed, I found myself feeling called to ministry.

I remember going to a Pastor at the local college ministry I attended on Sunday nights (the one with the modern music and lights, because that's what college students relate to) and sharing this.  We went out to lunch and he challenged me that being called to ministry and being called to Pastor are two different things; that we are all called to minister.

What he said was true, but he didn't get what I was saying.  I had a strong conviction that ministry would be my work, not just a volunteer project a few hours each week.  But I still ran from it.

Why?  Because my views were off and no one was around to check me.

On one hand, I would be overzealous and legalistic about life focusing more on tasks than people.  On the other hand, I was able to speak truth and teach in a way that people got.  It was this dueling dichotomy of God's gifting and lack of discipleship.

But what I've learned, now 12 years since that lunch conversation, is that who God says I am and what He calls me to hasn't changed.  God is good for changing the names of those in the Bible when a transformation happens, and even if they don't always live up to it, the name hasn't changed.

When Jesus called Cephas Peter, his anger to pull out a sword or being told to get behind Jesus didn't change the man he was to be.

When Jacob became Israel, his favoritism in parenting and choice to mourn for years over his favorite son did not change the trajectory of his lineage.

Because God's purpose trumps our doings.

What I have learned over the past 12 years, and especially the past 6 months, is that I need to be discipled.  Not a curriculum, but doing life.  Following.  Being a student.  Bringing my ideas to someone wiser who will correctly train me up.

Was I ready 12 years ago to write a book or speak?  Not yet.  Am I ready today to lead on a larger level?  Not yet.  But is the call God placed on me consistent and is the burden on my heart?  Yes.

And will I grow into the leader He has called me to be?  Absolutely.  Because there is literally nothing I want more than to live for Jesus and make Him known.

I'm not 'there' right now, but I'm not going to fight it or focus on things outside of this purpose.  I surrender my will to Him and will follow obediently.  He loves me too much for me not to show my love right back.

Michael Tatonetti