Bring Your Identity to Your Work

Posted by Aaron Buer on January 23, 2020

Can we talk about pressure? 

Does anyone else feel the pressure to achieve, to perform, to do more? 

And I’m not talking about sports or the business world.

I’m talking about church.  

Isn’t it interesting that we’re in the business of liberating people from the pressure to perform for God and to accept a free gift from God, and yet we feel all kinds of pressure to perform? 

What’s this about?  

I recently read an article that connects worship and work, but not in the way you’re thinking. 

The author talks about how everyone worships something in America.

With religion on the decline, many of us worship our work.


The author, Derek Thompson, uses the phrase workism to describe this phenomenon.  

Work becomes worship when it defines our identity. 

This is what makes me valuable. This is what gives me purpose. 

This is what will save me.   

What happens when God calls you to the work but the work, becomes your god?  

I think the word we are looking for is idolatry.  

I know I’m not the only one who wrestles with this. 

The problem is that so many of us get into ministry because of what someone or a group of people said about us:  

  • “You are so good at that!”  
  • “God has gifted you for that!”  
  • “When you do that, it blesses people.”

Something my senior pastor says really hits me here:  What gets you into ministry cannot sustain you in ministry.

In other words, approval of people confirms a calling but won’t keep you in that calling.  

Recently I listened to a podcast with Louie Giglio where he talked about resisting his need for approval. 

Louie is a preacher, and a really good one, and here’s what he said about weeks where his sermon was not the best sermon he’s ever preached:

“'s okay sometimes to go, "I worked hard on this. I studied my tail off. I prayed. I sought God. I brought my best and I served the people. I'm just going to let that be enough today.”

This is a challenge for me because the sermon is never good enough, there’s never enough time and I really want people to like me! 

And yet, every week that I preach, I take Friday off even though I preach on Saturday and Sunday.

But the sermon is not 100% finished!!!  

It’s a decision to rest and trust.  

I believe you can only do this if you bring your identity to your work instead of finding your identity in your work.  

For some of us, this will be THE battle of our ministry careers. And it has to be.  

And how do you bring your identity to your work instead of finding your identity in your work? 

By remembering where your value comes from. It’s important to remember God’s words to Jesus at his baptism:  

This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.

Keep in mind, Jesus hadn’t really done anything yet. 

Understand that before all the miracles and teaching—before the crucifixion, the Father loved him and was pleased with him. 

Why? Because he is his Son.  

This is the identity that Jesus brought to his work.


Let’s remember that we are God’s children, and that because of the cross, he loves us and is pleased with us before all the work that we may or may not accomplish.  

Let’s bring that identity to our ministries instead of letting our ministry shape our identity.  It’s the difference between serving from a healthy or unhealthy place.  

Our congregations need us to be healthy. 

We need to anchor ourselves in Him rather than our work.  

Wrap Up

We’d love to hear from you if you have a question, and idea, or need some encouragement.  Leave us a comment below. 

Topics: Advice

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