Focus verse: "Long ago, even before he made the world God chose us to be his very own, through what Christ would do for us." ~ Ephesians 1:4

 

In order to allow the power of God to freely reign in our lives and flow through us, spilling out in ministry, we must cultivate spiritual habits. Habits are powerful motivators and determine the difference between failure and success in ministry as well personally. 

 

Perceive your true identity

 

God knows you better than you know yourself and better than anyone else will ever know you.  Still He loves you unconditionally.  The Father knows every tear that you have cried and the number of hairs on your head.

 

Psalm 56:8 ~ "Lord, you have seen me tossing and turning through the night.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle!  You have recorded every one in your book."

 

Matthew 10:30 ~ "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."

 

This may come as a great shock to you but God does not love you because you are so lovable. He loves you simply because you are His and He can't help Himself. I love the story of a father coming home from a very stressful day at work. As he fought rush hour traffic, the dad longingly envisioned his favorite chair and the newspaper waiting for him there. What a day!  He desperately needed quiet, rest and relaxation.

 

Finally home, he headed straight for his chair, sinking into its familiar comfort. He had been reading for only a few minutes when his six-year-old daughter came running into the room, thrilled to see her daddy. She leaned on his knees, waiting for an invitation. 

 

Lowering the paper, the dad weakly smiled at his daughter, patted her on the head - then continued reading. She thought for a moment. "Daddy, can I get you a drink?" she offered. "No thanks, honey.  I'm not thirsty," came the quick response. The little girl thought for a moment. "Daddy, can I get you something to eat?" she eagerly asked. "I'm not hungry!" came the short reply.  Not one to give up, the little girl began again, "Daddy, can I..."

The exasperated father crumpled the paper in his hands, abruptly stopping the little girl with his sharp words; "Honey, what do you want?" The little girl looked up into her father's eyes and softly said, "Daddy, I don't want anything.  I love you so much that I just have to do something about it."

 

And the Father loves you so much that He just had to do something about it. He gave the amazing gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, on Calvary to pay for your sins. He gives daily power for daily struggles.  He turns to you when you cannot turn to Him and loves you when you are unlovable.  His forgiveness is unending and His presence faithful. You are the apple of His eye and a child of His grace. God knows you. You are loved.

 

God set me apart. I belong to Him.

 

Not only are you adored by Holy God, you belong to Him and are set apart because you are His.  We all have a deep need to belong. That truth is clearly demonstrated daily on the playground of every school when children stand, eagerly waiting to be chosen for some group or team. And we all know what it feels like when we are not chosen.

 

I have great news for you, my friend. You have been chosen. You are accepted and you do belong to God. Now I know what you are thinking.  Women in ministry surely know this truth and in fact, often teach and share it with others.

For years, I taught this truth before I experienced it. I have talked with so many other women in ministry who, like me, struggle to understand and accept the amazing fact there is not another person who can take my place in the Father's heart.  I am indispensable to no one but Him.  He loves me.  He chose me. And I belong to Him. Wow!

 

Ephesians 1:4 ~ "Long ago, even before he made the world God chose us to be his very own, through what Christ would do for us."

 

God is a very possessive parent.  I can relate.  When my now 20-year-old son, Jered, was a baby we had to take him to the hospital where we were told that emergency surgery was a possibility.

 

Because the doctors wanted to run several tests before making a decision, Jered was not allowed to eat or drink anything and consequently, an IV was inserted in my son's tiny foot - just in case surgery was required.  The nurses were wonderful.  With tender care, they inserted the intravenous needle.  I held my wailing son as they cut a Styrofoam cup in half and taped it over the needle, holding the IV securely in place.

 

Jered had finally quieted down when a young man burst through the door of our hospital room, announcing that he needed to take Jered up to X-ray.  I disliked him on the spot.  He was in a hurry and obviously did not understand who this child was - mine. In a rush to move "his" patient from my arms to the stretcher, he yanked the IV out of Jered's leg.  I don't exactly remember what happened next, but Dan was there and he tells me it was not a pretty sight.

 

With my son screaming in pain, I stomped my foot at the young man, giving him the "mother's look of death."  He glared right back at me and said, "Lady, do you need to leave the room?" At this point, Dan is trying to decide how he is going to come up with my bail and explain the murder of one very foolish X-ray technician.  I stepped toward the young man, stopping one inch from his nose, burrowed my finger in his chest and through clenched teeth, growled a warning.  "This is MY baby, buster. You'd better watch how you treat him. Oh, and by the way, I - am - not - going - anywhere!"

 

He got the message. I pray that you do. It is simple but breathtaking. We belong to Him. Our heavenly Father stands beside us, with a warning, "This is My child. She belongs to Me. You'd better watch how you treat her - and by the way, I am not going anywhere."

 

God set us apart.  He loves us, chose us for His own and we belong to Him. To be successful in ministry - we must first recognize our value in Him and have a correct perception of who we are - created by God, for God.

 

A personal word from Mary:  Perceiving our true identity in Christ is the first habit of a highly successful woman in ministry and the foundation upon which all of the other habits rest.  Understanding who we are in God's eyes frees us to truly worship and joyfully serve Him. Guilt vanishes, unable to survive in a purpose driven life.  Heart motives are refined in the fire of front line ministry as we become bent on pleasing God. Contentment flourishes as the chaos of disobedience gives way to the chosen will and accepted plan of God. The most powerful ministry flows from a clear life plan - not to it!

 

Does your ministry lack power?

 

Are you constantly plagued by doubt and fear?

 

Do you often feel unworthy and alone?

 

Rest in His power - revel in His peace - celebrate His love and unique plan for your life, knowing that you are precious in His eyes.

 

Mary Southerland is a pastor's wife, mother of two teenagers, director with Proverbs 31 Ministries, author of Coming Out of the Dark (Harvest House, 2004), and conference speaker. She is also the founder of Journey Ministry, a teaching ministry dedicated to equipping every woman for her unique journey. Visit Mary's new website at www.MarySoutherland.com.

 

(c) Copyright 2004. Used by permission. All rights reserved.