I wanted to write about the issue of identity & worth. It links naturally with yesterday’s reflection about the dangers of comparing ourselves with others. But today I turn to the words of Phil Wickham, which say what I wanted to say much more powerfully than I could.
Phil is a singer/songwriter, worship leader & Christian recording artist. He tours around the world and leads worship at venues large and small, for churches & conferences. A couple of years ago he was due to lead worship at the Catalyst conference in California for 3500 people. But the night before, in the middle of a tour gig, he damaged his vocal chords & was instructed not even to whisper, let alone speak or sing. He still attended the conference, in silence, and the organisers asked him to write a letter to the attendees to explain what happened, and they prayed for him. Here is what he wrote: [emphasis mine]
While leading worship last weekend on a tour through New England, my vocal chords hit a wall. I felt a drastic change in my voice, and I knew something wasn’t right. It was like a guitar with broken strings. I knew where the notes should be, but they just weren’t there. We cancelled the following shows, and I had to wait several days until I could see a doctor and get some answers.
In the unknown of what was to come my reaction was one I wouldn’t have expected. I would have guessed fear, or frustration. Maybe even desperation. But it wasn’t those things. I felt lost.
I realized right then how closely I tied my own worth with my voice. My worth as a provider. My worth as a leader. My worth as a person. Though now it sounds a bit melodramatic, I sat silent alone in my hotel room that night wondering, “What am I worth without a voice?” “Who am I without it?”
After seeing a specialist this morning we found out there is an irregularity on my left vocal chord that was most likely caused from overuse. Thankfully, they believe we caught this early on enough that it can most likely be reversed without surgery. The only way to reverse it is total silence. No singing. No talking. The silence could be two weeks, two months, or longer.
So I’ve been quiet now since Saturday, and you can imagine how the last 5 days have pretty much been just a wild series of nods, shakes, and gestures. It’s amazing how difficult it is to get the salt passed in your direction when you can’t talk.
It’s also been a lot of listening. I’m starting to feel like I haven’t been listening enough because I feel like I’m hearing a lot more lately. The Lord has been speaking to me profoundly. I feel so at peace. So loved. Moments of fear are quenched with a thought of the cross. Moments of anxiety vanish in the whispers of His grace. And I am thankful for it.
I wonder if I have been finding my identity too much in the means and not enough in the end. I am learning that our biggest and brightest identity is one that we can’t ever lose. Voices, platforms, people, buildings, beauty, skills, relationships, Life… they can come and go. But our identity as a forgiven child of God, our identity as part of the redeemed bride of Christ. This is our capital “I” Identity. This is the one that we will always have. This is the One that will define us forever. May we not define our worth by the praises of men, or the breadth of our influence. God defines our worth by running to us as he did the prodigal son, and wrapping us in His arms. And in this worth, in this identity we find our calling: to love Him who first loved us in such a way that it spills out of our hearts, lips, hands, and feet. In living out this calling, we have certainty that our legacy will be a joyous and eternal one. Amen!
I am now literally excited, like I’m on the edge of my seat to see what God is doing and watch what HE is going to do through this time. I humbly ask for your prayers. Prayers for healing. Prayers of wisdom for the doctors. Prayers for my wife, Mallory, who has been a champion among champions in this whole situation, and for my two baby girls to help them understand why daddy can’t read them any books right now.
I love you all and pray from the bottom of my heart that God fans a flame in your soul to step into your identity, chase after your calling, and leave an eternal legacy for Him. May his Spirit fall fresh and powerful upon you all. Bringing light to dark places, and water to the dry places of your souls. Grace and peace! Amen!
– in what do I find my identity?
– where do I find my worth?
– what do I need to let go of in order to find my true Identity in God?