God snuck up on me today…

As part of the last day of The Warehouse’s Winter School for church and ministry leaders, I was leading several people through a time of personal retreat. I had challenged each of us to spend some time considering one thing God had brought to our attention over the past few days of the training – use this opportunity to go deep. I had also encouraged us to not move too quickly to “what am I going to do?” Instead, allow God to speak to who we ARE… and after that we can consider what actions this may lead to. And so we began into some time of solitude.

But then there was a tea break (not so well suited for the middle of retreats, but other participants were doing other electives. And, well. 10:30 is tea time, no matter what, right?). I was chatting briefly with a woman who is part of a local church I have good relationships with and had done a retreat for some of their team (including this woman) last year. This woman has recently taken on a new role, basically leading the team I had worked with last year. Interestingly, another person on that team had called me a while back and suggested that I apply for this job. I considered it, but decided it wasn’t the best fit for me. So this woman today says, “xxx told me she had called you and thought you might apply for the job. Why didn’t you?”

And while this could have been potentially quite awkward, I answered her straight away: “Because to do my best work, I can’t just work for one church. I need to be able to work across churches.” I love helping other people figure out how they can be who God wants them to be and I am much more of a catalyst and designer than one to run a system over time. I can create an amazing box, just don’t ask me to get in it!  It felt really good to say that. There was no apologizing or word smithing. She didn’t look down on me for not being something I am not. In fact, our conversation continued about all sorts of ministry I love and some of my questions about how to make it happen best.

So then we moved back into our time of solitude and it hit me – we just had a conversation about identity. I am a catalyst. I am an explorer. I am a designer. I am a dreamer. Yes, I am a priest – but more like Melchizedek than Aaron (that’ll need to be another blog post). What and where and how I express who I am can change – certainly has changed over time. And while the core of who I am – who God has designed me to BE has always been in there – I am continuing to discover and embrace this identity. What a journey! It’s not always easy – there is so much that works against us being our true selves. But the more I connect with this God who passionately loves me and has done everything to set me free, the more I am able to truly live.

The irony is, when I talk about how I am discovering who I really am, most people’s response is: of course! We already knew that. Why don’t you? This identity seems to be more hidden from me than anyone else. My not so secret identity.