To Do or to Be? A Radical Kind of New Year’s Resolution
In this first month of the year, millions are still focused on resolutions for personal improvement. While there is much debate as to the effectiveness of this exercise, the fact is that most resolutions are focused on tasks, goals, and productivity.
But as a matter of perspective, we are wise to remember that Jesus did not come to enhance our productivity, but essentially to transform our heart, identity, and values. Christ’s incarnation, sinless life, substitutionary death, and glorious resurrection not only secured our salvation but demonstrated our worth, based on God’s unfathomable love for us. In Him, our soul finds its real value.
We are wise to remember that Jesus did not come to enhance our productivity, but essentially to transform our heart, identity, and values.
Our productivity is to be the overflow of our worth, not the proof of our worth. What we accomplish does not define us, nor is it the essential mark of a meaningful year. Good works, as the expression of our identity in Christ, are the essence of fruit that matters now and in eternity.
Our productivity is to be the overflow of our worth, not the proof of our worth.
Overcoming Insecurity and Insignificance
Yet, we struggle. Accomplishments are the name of the game. We compare and compete, often driven by insecurity and the need to prove that we are worthy, or at least better than others.
Insecurity and insignificance plague us all at one point or another – even at many points every day. Like a lingering tennis elbow, the tinge of emotional unrest can show up unexpectedly in circumstances and conversations, triggering defensiveness, withdrawal, braggadocio, and an array of other relationally counterproductive responses.
Abraham Maslow, although a humanistic psychologist, still had candid insight about the plague of insecurity. He described an insecure person as a person who “perceives the world as a threatening jungle and most human beings as dangerous and selfish; feels rejected and isolated, anxious and hostile; is generally pessimistic and unhappy; shows signs of tension and conflict, tends to turn inward; is troubled by guilt-feelings, has one or another disturbance of self-esteem; tends to be neurotic; and is generally selfish and egocentric.” He viewed every insecure person as facing a continual, chronic longing for security.
Insecurity is defined as “an unsafe feeling: a state of mind characterized by self-doubt and vulnerability.” Insecure people often feel threatened in a situation or relationship. They struggle with feelings of rejection, anxiety, unhappiness, and guilt. They often react to situations they feel are threatening by withdrawing, competing, or becoming hostile. Soon, their life can feel insignificant.
The Root of Insecurity
Real security is not found in the latest self-help book, the accomplishment of greater tasks, or our financial success. Net worth is not the same as self-worth. Real security and significance is rooted in life-giving relationship with the Source of all things healthy and secure. Our sin has separated us from the Rock, the Shelter, the Strong Tower and Strength of every life – God Almighty. Through the work of Messiah Jesus, we can be restored to a secure rest in God’s extravagant love for us, His full provision for us, and the sufficiency of His grace in us.
Real security is not found in the latest self-help book, the accomplishment of greater tasks, or our financial success. Net worth is not the same as self-worth. Real security and significance is rooted in life-giving relationship with the Source of all things healthy and secure.
Yet, our insecure flesh remains. Failing to appropriate all the real blessings of life in Christ to daily relationships, conversations, and trials, we feel shaken and threatened once again. We reenter the superficial competition of the human contest for fleeting superiority, rather than resting in truth and ministering to others out of the abundance of God’s available grace.
A Struggle for All
In a recent conversation with some pastoral colleagues, I asked, “When was a time when you felt insecure? What triggered that? How did you respond?” The answers were honest and diverse. The answers included:
- When I failed to perform a task up to standard
- When I am unprepared for a responsibility (like preaching)
- When I have to confront people about a difficult issue
- When my children do not respect me
As our pastoral conversation unfolded we each affirmed the common struggle regardless of calling, titles, or age. We also concluded that much of our insecurity is rooted in a failure to regularly affirm our true identity in Christ. A secure and consistent assurance of who we really are, according to the truth that is in Christ, frees us from the need to always make self the point of reference. Personal well-being and emotional sufficiency spring from our abiding in Christ and our affirmation of what that really means in terms of how we understand or see ourselves.
Much of our insecurity is rooted in a failure to regularly affirm our true identity in Christ.
This is why I wrote The Deeper Life – Satisfying the 8 Vital Longings of the Soul, and why we created a SMALL GROUP STUDY on this essential process. This is why, at the beginning of every year, we offer a personal coaching experience on these principles. One foundational longing of every soul is a genuine assurance of personal worth. We all thirst to live from a secure sense of identity. Renewal in the truth of our biblical identity and worth is central to a truly happy new year.
A secure and consistent assurance of who we really are, according to the truth that is in Christ, frees us from the need to always make self the point of reference.
Biblical, Specific, and Personal
This hope and longing has compelled me to write a personal identity statement that is based in the truth of God’s word about who I am in Christ. Believe me, I review it often because of my chronically insecure flesh. Throughout many days, I have to quote it by memory, just to keep perspective when negative emotions rise and insecurities come knocking.
Colossians 3:10 reminds us that Christ followers “have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” Ephesians 4:24 affirms that we have “put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” This is the power and potential of living from a secure core of self-understanding every day – in every relationship, any situation, and all conversations.
A Powerful Point of Reference
It has been said that a proper self-image is seeing yourself as God sees you – no more, no less. Christ has made all things new through the power of the cross, including our core identity. We are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
A proper self-image is seeing yourself as God sees you – no more, no less. Christ has made all things new through the power of the cross, including our core identity. We are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Now, within this new reality we can live in a new year with Christ as the point of reference in how we feel about ourselves. We can be free to live with others as our focus because our joy is found in self-giving, not self-protection. We can subdue the petty comparisons. We can stop attending our own pity-parties. We can rejoice in the success of others, trusting the truths that set us free from insecurity.
Yes, insecurity and insignificance are a daily battle for every person. We can thank God that in Christ that battle has been won and the focus of our lives can be changed day by day as we engage in an authentic rest in the Rock of our Salvation. He is our security.
Now, you can keep planning your new year, not to prove who you are but to celebrate and steward your new identity in Jesus Christ.
Copyright © 2020 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.