35@35 #7: Identity

IdentityTC's Guidelines and Principals for Life #7: "Don’t worry so much about where you are, focus on who you are.  Worry more about what’s happening in you than what’s happening to you." I learned this lesson when I found myself stuck in a corporate job that I didn't want. I'm grateful for the job, because it allowed me to provide for my family while I was working on attaining a graduate degree in Theology.

But the job didn't connect with what I felt God had called me to do, so I was pretty miserable.

One morning, as I was walking to the train to start my day (which also included a 3 hour commute), I felt God say this guideline to me. That I was so worried about what I was doing, that I wasn't paying attention to what God wanted to do within me. That the frustrating situation that I was in was actually causing me to become a different person.

A person who needed more faith and trust in God. A person who would have compassion for people who were stuck in the same type of situation.

I was eating manna in the wilderness because God was preparing me for the promised land he had for me.

Israel could have crossed from Egypt to Canaan in a matter of weeks or perhaps months. It took 40 years because God had to prepare them for their destination.

If you have areas in your life where you are frustrated, ask God what he wants to accomplish in you during that situation.

I found that God was dealing with specific issues within me that he wanted to deal with: pride, impatience, anxiety; and so he would put me in situations that really brought those problems to the front in my life. Then, he would go to work, helping me to confront those issues.

God is less concerned with getting us somewhere 'quickly' as he is with us being 'healthy' when we get there.

Elsewhere, I've made the analogy that God is more like a crockpot than a microwave.

God wants us to to grow as a person and connect more with Him before we start going off and trying to do something with it. And that's basically the opposite of what our culture tells us. Success means being the first to make it to a certain level.

But God isn't keeping score like some demented rat race. He's building relationships that make up his Kingdom of love and peace and joy.

And unless you become a healthy person, you'll never get to enjoy the benefits of that kingdom.

Stop measuring yourself against others, and instead time time to learn what God's agenda is for you.


35@35 is a blog series by Thomas Christianson which involves 35 blog posts in 2014 on 35 things he has learned at the age of 35.

How to Receive God's Guidance For Your Life

S12_Blueprints I was reading the Bible today, and I found this: “One day as they (several prophets and teachers in a prominent church) were worshiping God - they were also fasting as they waited for guidance - the Holy Spirit spoke…”(Acts 13:2) These first century believers - among them somebody who has to be considered if we ever build a Mt. Rushmore of church fathers, Paul - have no idea what to do next.

So they’re waiting, and seeking God’s guidance. How? By worshiping and praying.

It doesn’t say that were freaking out. Doesn’t say that they were starting dozens of new initiatives simultaneously to find the right one. It also doesn’t say that they sat around and waited for opportunity to knock.

These people clearly want to know what God’s plan is. Rather than going off in a random direction, they waited until they knew it so they could cooperate with God’s plan.

Imagine a builder who doesn’t get the blueprints from their architectural firm by the time they are ready to start construction. Does this builder just say, ‘oh well’, and start building whatever comes to mind? I hope not. I hope they would wait, and seek out those blueprints.

I hope they would realize that building without a plan is not only foolish, it’s dangerous. And when the blueprints arrive, the first thing they would have to do is tear down the mess they started.

Paul and the other believers realize that God has a blueprint. For their lives, for their church, for the world. And rather than just starting to build as fast as they can so that people see ‘results!’, they take the time to seek out what the blueprints say.

I don’t know why God sometimes withholds these plans from us. I do know it drives us nuts. At least it does that for me.

But this does teach me patience. It teaches me dependance. It teaches me faith.

It reminds me of the value of the Planner.

So the way to receive God’s guidance for your life is to seek them, and don’t start building until you have them. Again, this isn’t a license for laziness. Remember the story about the master who goes on a trip and expects his servants to be productive while he’s gone?

While we’re waiting for the plans, we should be productive. Meeting with other believers, having devoted prayer time, fasting - these are all efforts. I guarantee you they were also reading the scriptures and being a part of the local community of believers.

You can plant shrubs and mow the grass while waiting for the plans to build.

Don’t let your life become a vacant lot, or overgrown mess while you wait. Just don’t start major renovations without a plan.

When Wishes Come True

There's an old Chinese Curse that goes like this: "May you get what you wish for." You read that right. It's a curse. Not a blessing. Not a proverb. A curse.

The idea is that none of us really knows what we want in life. The things that we think would make us happy will just make us miserable.

I spent the last several years asking (begging) God for the opportunity to work at a job that would be in line with my passion in life: strengthening and expanding the kingdom of God. I am also passionate about developing critical thinking in others.

God gave me two positions at almost exactly the same time: adjunct professor and executive pastor.

I couldn't be more excited. I also couldn't be more busy! These are my dream jobs, and now I feel like I have been taken out of the desert and made to drink from a fire hose.

You know that Christian cliche about how 'if you're not asking God for something so big that without His help, you'll fail', then your prayer isn't big enough? Well, my prayer was big enough.

Here's the thing: I wasn't looking for a particular position that was easy. I wanted one that was worth it. I know I have that now. So I'm willing to fight and struggle to learn what I need to know in order to advance God's kindgom from the position he has placed me.

I also know that being so busy is a great way to forget about God altogether. So I am most fearful, not of failure, but of taking on this great challenge on my own.

I am honored that God has given me something so big, and now, I can't wait to see what God wants to do in me and through me after giving me everything I wished for!