Who Are You?
As a man, I have found one of my most significant challenges is staying focused. There is always so much background noise! I find myself getting into firefighting mode running from crisis to crisis or from activity to activity, and before I know it, I have lost sight of the big picture. I feel lost, worn out and weary, and confused about my purpose.
Who am I? What is my calling? What is my role as a dad, a husband, a friend, a Christian? How do I make sense of all the little things that make up my story? How do I understand my job, faith, and family in light of the daily grind?
When the Apostle Paul introduced himself at the start of 2 Timothy, right at verse 1, I like to think that he wasn’t just speaking to the church but also himself. He was locked in a prison, awaiting his execution, missing his friends, and hurting from the pain of his ministry journey.
Yet Paul’s words sound like a rallying call. I think he was rallying himself for one final push towards the finish line, no matter what was happening in the background. Fires were blazing in his churches all across the region, and people were deserting him and leaving him to die.
But Paul reminded himself of this great truth – and so I remind myself of this truth. I am, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 1:1 ESV).
Who are you, and what are you called to be?
As Paul sat in the darkness of the infamous Mamertine Prison in Rome, waiting, hoping, praying, dreaming, anxious and expectant, alone, disappointed and deserted, I believe he was asking that all-important question – Who am I, and who am I called to be? How do I make sense of my story, right here, right now?
Paul’s opening reflection serves us a great model, helping anchor us as men to the immovable truth of our identity in Christ. Here are three things to remember in those times when you feel like you are losing your focus and your sense of the big picture.
1. You Are Know And Loved By God
First, you are known by God.
The great Apostle had a name, but beyond his title, reputation, and work, he was Paul – and Paul was known and loved by God. It was Paul (also known as Saul) who was radically undone and redeemed by Christ. It was Paul who experienced that Christ “loved me and gave himself for me.” Paul had the Holy Spirit in him, leading him to cry out, “Abba Father,” and it was Paul who experienced the freedom of the gospel. Before Paul was anything else, before he did anything, he was a beloved child of God, known by God and saved by his mercy and grace.
What was true of the Apostle is true of each of us. Remind yourself of this, speak this truth to yourself, and in the busyness of your life, take time to stop and to enjoy this foundational truth: You are known and loved by God. Not because you are a dad, husband, director, pastor, elder, missionary, mechanic (insert any of your roles in here), but because you have a name, and that name is known above and written the Lamb’s book of life. You are known in love.
Remind yourself of this, speak this truth to yourself, and in the busyness of your life, take time to stop and to enjoy this foundational truth: You are known and loved by God.
2. You Are Sent With A Job To Do
Not only are you known in love, but you are also sent from above.
When I mentor young leaders in my community, I like to take them through John’s Gospel with the focus on one particular word- sent. In every chapter of John, at least once Jesus will speak about being sent. Jesus understood his identity as our first Apostle- the first “sent one.” If he reminds himself of his “sentness,” I think it is a critical discipleship practice for those following him to do the same.
At the very conclusion of Jesus’ ministry in John, our Lord drops a truth bomb that should slap us all up the side of the face – blessing us and blasting us at the same time. “As the Father sends me, so I send you.” (John 20:21)
Paul was reminding himself and his readers that his apostleship is not about a job title, but about his calling into the great and grand purposes of God, namely the mission of God. In other words, you and I need to understand how our lives – with all their moving parts and many roles – take place within the big story of God.
In Christ, we are invited into a narrative that is so grand and glorious that it gives purpose to our everyday reality. There was a purpose to Paul’s prison cell, and there is a purpose to your office job or your shift at the factory. Let us remind ourselves and our brothers of this. We are sent! Ambassadors of another Kingdom, emissaries of another King.
There was a purpose to Paul’s prison cell, and there is a purpose to your office job or your shift at the factory.
3. You Are Secure In The Promise Of Eternal Life
Finally, we are tethered to the promises of God in Christ.
Paul reminded himself that while he may have been forgotten about by everyone else, he was also known and loved by God. While it looked like things were out of God’s control, he was sent by God. Despite his current reality, he was taking his place in the bigger story.
Paul concluded his opening statement with this truth: While his death was imminent, his life was anchored to a greater reality and a firmer hope – the promise of life in Christ. Eternity is what makes sense of everything we experience. The security of real life – eternal life in Christ – serves to motivate, compel, console, and strengthen us for our calling.
Eternity is what makes sense of everything we experience.
Brothers, learn from Paul and preach to yourself every so often. Here are three significant truths you can proclaim to yourself today:
I am known and loved by God.
I am a sent one with a job to do.
I am secure in the promise of Christ for eternity.