As the prophet Samuel’s life was coming to an end, and thus his time as a judge for Israel, the nation asked to have an earthly king.
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. – 1 Samuel 8:6-7
The issue for Samuel was that Israel was rejecting his sons as leaders, causing him to turn to the Lord to see if something could be done. God had a reminder for him: you are in me, Samuel, your identity is not dependent upon your son’s behavior, it is secure in me.
Israel had been led poorly before, and God had come to their rescue every time. So by asking for a king they were rejecting that God had taken responsibility for leading the people.
It was not Samuel they were rejecting, it was God.
Having his identity in the Lord provided a shield and security for Samuel’s sense of significance.
When you are led by the false self, you have no shield.
If your identity is in your body image, when you gain a few pounds or if you compare poorly with someone else at the gym, then you have failed by the standard with which you are measuring yourself. Your shame, feelings of unworthiness, will be exposed, needing to be covered again somehow.
If your identity is in your job, if you lose it or get bypassed for a promotion, then you have no shield because you have failed by the standard by which you measure yourself.
(For church leaders, if you measure your significance by church size or giving amount or positive press, then when fewer people attend or giving is down or there is a negative email, then you have no shield. Those feelings of despair are a symptom of misplaced identity.)
But for the person who has an identity rooted in Christ, Ephesians 6:16 says this about our faith:
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Faith is focusing your eyes and identity upon Jesus, even when circumstances seem to lead you to a different path. It is that faith that shields you and protects your sense of significance.
For instance, you may lose your job and the enemy will tell you that you are a failure, unable to meet your own needs. But, since your significance is based on being created by and loved by, and chose by Christ, it cannot be taken away. Of course you will grieve, but you will have God to cling to.
The same is true for whatever circumstance you are in. In Christ, circumstances do not define you.
Your identity has a shield that will not leave you nor forsake you.
What truths do you cling to when the circumstances of your life get messy?
I work with followers of Christ to energize discipleship, improve relationships, decrease anxiety and facilitate leadership development. I am a certified coach specializing in pastoral leadership, relationships, discipleship, life transitions, and Christian identity. Also, I am the author of the forthcoming book Discovering Your Root: Developing Your Identity in Christ.
Services I offer are one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking at organizations/churches, workshops on marriage/discipleship/leadership, and church retreats. For more info, click here to contact me.