In the R Stage of Responsibilities in Ministry (the third of the CHRIST stages of faith), we’re ready to share with others the blessings we’ve received, the lessons we’ve learned, and the gifts God has given us.
Any act of Christly kindness is a cup of water to the thirsty that brings God’s great reward (Matt. 10:42). Ministry here refers to any work we do “for his name’s sake” (Ps. 23:3), whether paid or volunteer. We roll up our sleeves and get busy because we work to honor God and bless others.
You shine your light for Christ in the R Stage because Jesus gives you a special light to shine that is needed by others in your circle of influence (Matt. 5:16).
The psychology behind R Stage doing is identity development. No one else has your uniquely God-created, Christ-redeemed, and Spirit-infused personality!
The apostle John describes three temptations that can keep us from shining brightly for Jesus: “wanting your own way,” “wanting everything for yourself,” and “wanting to appear important” (1 John 2:16 MSG). Each sinful desire can become a false identity message:
• “You are what you do.”
• “You are what you have.”
• “You are what people say about you.”
Becoming identified with these worldly wants causes us to rely more on our own abilities and resources rather than on the Spirit of life and peace (Rom. 8:6–8). Sadly, when we believe these lies we’re rejecting God’s love.
We overcome them as we follow Jesus, who defeated Satan’s lies in the wilderness by reciting truths from Scripture (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10). He refused a self-made-ego identity in favor of replenishing himself in his true-beloved-by-Abba self (Matt. 3:13–17).
John had his own identity challenges to work through. First, he may have felt he’d failed his father by not continuing in their fishing business (Matt. 4:22). Then he failed his Rabbi with disbelief, pride, ambition, and thundering anger (see Mark 10:35–45; Luke 9:54).
Even as an apostle, he was always lost in the shadows of Peter and Paul. But John’s career challenges helped him succeed in his spiritual formation in Christ, which is what the Lord most wants from our life.
The Beloved Disciple shows us that it’s by abiding in Jesus’ ministry of the Father’s love for us that we love others well (John 15:5–12). John grew to be joyfully confident in his identity as “the disciple Jesus loves.”
When I (Bill) was in my late twenties and in the R Stage, the Lord showed me that I was basing my identity on the lie of “you are what you do” rather than on Jesus’ love for me. The lesson came at a time when I was embarrassed because I had a Ph.D. in psychology but was working as a security guard.
I spent eight years and over $100,000 on my education, and instead of being a doctor of the soul, I saw myself as a lowly doctor of security! I was in a desolation of feeling God’s absence as my prayers for change went unanswered.
One day I was mindlessly watching the security cameras when suddenly I sensed Christ speak to my heart: “Bill, why are you anxious and discouraged? Don’t look to your Ph.D., your income, or what people think of you for your identity—learn to find your significance in me. Hold your head high because you belong to me!”
In that moment, the Good Shepherd was asking me to set aside my ego-self in order to strengthen my true self in his grace by repeating John’s affirmation that I’m a beloved disciple of Jesus. My identity in Jesus was secure as God’s beloved with Jesus!
Try it. Speak out loud the affirmation: “I’m the disciple Jesus loves! I’m the disciple Jesus loves! I’m the disciple Jesus loves!” It’s simple to do, yet you’ll be surprised by the big impact of the grace and joy of Jesus getting into your body and personality.
As we grow in our true identity as God’s beloved, we begin to trust his strength to work through us. We will then find our light shining brightly as our gifts of service and ministry reflect the Father’s confidence and love and bless others in our world (Gen. 1:26–28).
©️ Bill & Kristi Gaultiere, Journey of the Soul, Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2021. Adapted and used by permission.
Listen to this week’s SoulTalk: In the “Responsibilities in Ministry” stage, we discover the joy of bringing our gifts and talents to make a difference in God’s kingdom. Energy and excitement are found in this stage and it can also lead to spiritual dryness or burnout. Bill shares his journey through the R stage, and how it challenged him to lean more deeply into a cycle of grace, rooted in God’s unconditional love, instead of a cycle of works. You’ll leave this conversation with encouragement and insight, and with specific practices to connect with God in this stage.