I’m not sure if it was being in my 20s, being a new mom, or being fresh on the field, but my first year overseas catapulted me into the most intense identity crisis.
For someone who traditionally defined herself by tasks and roles, I was lost in my transition into my home abroad. I didn’t have a job title, and no one seemed to know what to do with a woman who wanted to work outside her home. I was pouring myself into language study, but I had no professional outlet to use my vocabulary.
This post may not speak to many of you, but it’s my confession. I moved to SE Asia as a workaholic who found my worth in productivity and my ability to GET THINGS DONE.
I tried in every way possible to validate myself as a Christian expat. I perfected my by-line on social media. I defined myself by my studies, by my motherhood, by my region of service. I wanted to be known for the *good* I was doing, and wanted to be identified by those kinds of measurables.
The problem is, the glory of the Lord is not a thing to be robbed.
Working for the Lord is not about our ability to make things happen on our own – it’s about His divine authority to make things happen for His glory.
So many times we want to lead big movements and have big followings and say big things, but our motives behind these desires are rooted in insecurities, selfishness, and pride.
The insecurities I faced as a new mom, a young professional, and a green expat overwhelmed me, and I tried to overcompensate by seeking validation through hard work and results.
Part of me thought if I accomplished enough for the Kingdom, God would be happy with me and I’d be worthy in His eyes. Part of me thought if I led enough and talked enough, people would be happy with me and I’d be worthy in their eyes.
I learned the hard way that God’s validation doesn’t come through my accomplishments, and seeking the approval of others is a disease that slowly eats away at my mental health.
This week we’re talking about spiritual disciplines, and I wanted to share this confession because I’ve learned so much about service.
The remedy to finding our exact spot in the identity of Christ? It’s found in the great paradox of the first being last (Matthew 19:30).
I’m afraid I’m going to step on some toes, but mine have been danced all over and I’m better for it. So I bear my soul here in hopes of speaking into the life of another one struggling to find her validation through works and deeds.
THERE IS NOTHING GREATER WE CAN DO FOR THE KINGDOM THAN TO BECOME NOTHING IN THE KINGDOM.
When we say we ‘seek to serve the least of these’ but what we really mean is lead our own non-profit, how can we check our motives?
When we desire to bring development to an impoverished world but what we are really after is the power to fix others’ problems, how can we check our intentions?
When we claim to bring the message of a Savior to a lost community but we’re keeping tallies of all the people *we* have saved, how can we check our hearts?
Coming from an entitled background that is coupled with a faith in Jesus can be an enigma. How do we use our material, social, and cognitive capital to be like Christ to those less fortunate?
The answer is service. We have to become nothing. We can’t and shouldn’t be first until we’re last.
If I’m honest, this took practice for me. I wish my spiritual gift was service, but I’ve had to be especially intentional to practice this as I’m more gifted towards leadership.
And leadership leads to accomplishments. And accomplishments lead to pride. And pride leads to glory-robbing.
For the women of my generation, I pray that we can see the value in doing whatever good deed is put in front of us, and really pour ourselves into that act of service.
I pray that we can see the value of an act of service even if it’s not put on social media. I pray we can see the value of an act of service even if it doesn’t lead to a greater following.
When it doesn’t bring us attention, when it doesn’t help us professionally, when it doesn’t grow our influence, I pray to goodness we see the value in the spiritual discipline of service.
Because that leads us closer to the heart of God. And when we are close to the heart of God, we no longer seek validation from Him or from the world. We simply know every battle already has been won.
What makes the spiritual discipline of service hard for you? What helps you in those times?