In 2007 when I became a State Trooper, I didn't know it, but what I had found was an identity that had purpose and fruit. I was a State Trooper. Every person around me knew it. Those who didn't know it were told by someone around me shortly after meeting me (probably to keep them from saying something they shouldn't!)
My purpose was to serve the people of Idaho by enforcing her laws and to help keep her people safe. I was very fruitful in fulfilling this purpose.
One day, I met Jesus in a deeply relational way and discovered the purpose I had found in being a Trooper was shallow compared to the purpose it seemed He could offer.
I went to work for a church. There, I found a new identity as the Director of Operations. My purpose was to help organize the church in equipping people to Unite People with Jesus through Worship. Growth. Service. and Community. The fruit I found was in writing policies, creating systems, and sitting in on visionary meetings where I could talk with other people about how to see more fruit. I wasn't really happy in this role but knew my character was being developed and changed from being a Trooper to being something or someone else. I just wasn't sure what it was, yet.
When I heard about a church in Smiths Ferry that needed a pastor, I knew it was my next step to discovering my purpose God had for me.
Jackie and I moved to Smiths Ferry with our 1 year old daughter and we began living day in and day out to discover our new identities as a Campus Pastor. This gave us the purpose of teaching, organizing local believers, and we saw fruit in many people showing up every Sunday to worship together and to listen to me speak, hopefully, to apply the words in their own lives.
Why the life recap? Well, because I'm describing what most of us would describe as a cycle of identity, purpose, and fruit. In any of these instances, I could say I had found a new identity, I had a new purpose, and I was seeing fruit.
But, the reality is, every person goes through cycles like this. We all have "identities, purpose, and fruit," even the non-believer.
Even the 40 year old living with his parents with no apparent purpose or fruit has all three if you asked him.
He would tell you his identity is found in his creative spirit yet to be discovered, that his purpose is continuing to practice his drums until he is good enough to play at the bar on Saturday nights, and his fruit is that he learned how to twirl the drumstick the other day and catch it while playing. If he kept at it long enough, he would succeed in his identity which would give him purpose and lead to other fruit.
But it can all seem so empty, can't it? The crazy thing is some people talk alot about these things, yet they have found their identity as the guy who talks about identity. They have found their purpose is to talk about a life of purpose. And, they mistakenly point to their fruit in life simply being the first two. The reality is some people who claim to be the experts, the "vision-casters" really aren't.
There is only one expert on identity, purpose, and fruit that has ever walked this earth. Here is what he said about it:
“If anyone would come after me [Jesus], let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?"
The reality is that for the Christian, there should be no other identity to pursue other than "follower of Christ".
There should be no purpose other than to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus.
If you are lacking a vision for your life, follow Jesus.
If you want to see purpose in your life, follow Jesus.
If you want to see fruit in your life, follow Jesus.
If you aren't even sure who you are, follow Jesus.
If you're worried you have lost your identity, or your vision, or your purpose, or you aren't seeing fruit, you are focused on the wrong thing.
Focus on the obedience being a disciple of Christ requires, everything else will fall into line.
I know. I'm living this today. Let me testify to you: The burden is light.
Was there ever a time in your life where you wrestled with your identity, purpose, or were frustrated with the fruit you were seeing? I've love it if you commented below to what steps you took to re-center your life around Jesus!
On a related note, if you live in Cascade and want regular encouragement and to be in the loop on what is happening around town, make sure you sign up over at www.lifeincascade.com.