The busy ego
“What do you want to be when you grow up Timmy?” “I want to me my own personal brand!”
Recently Stephen Colbert shone a spotlight on North American culture and our obsession with garnering identity in the tireless quest to validate ourselves…
This makes me laugh, but also cringe because I struggle with constant inner conversations about how I am perceived by people. My ego is very busy. It’s always running around looking for ways to validate me. Define me. Make me feel like I’m really something.
For example, I preach the gospel and pastor our church and write these blogs etc… to point people to Christ. AND, my busy ego often whispers, “this will validate me”. I’d love to tell you that like a good pastor, I take every thought captive and therefore only minister with pure motives. Well, yes I want my ministry to glorify Christ, but my busy ego is always looking to get a commission on His glory. My prayer is that over time, the Spirit will reform my heart so that year after year, I am less and less of a glory hog.
I have known the peace and rest that comes from the simplicity of allowing “loved by God” to define me. I also know the anxiousness and unrest that comes by needing to define myself. There have been many days when Ryan Reynolds twitter bio could have been mine…
Who will deliver my from this ego of death?
Garnering identity from what we do is human. It’s as natural, effortless and subconscious as breathing.
Get into the right school so people will respect and hire you.
Create value so that people want to do business with you.
Be others focused and people will want to hang out with you.
Be sexy and people will be attracted to you.
Be inspiring and influential and people will follow your lead.
Be competent like Tim Keller and people will go to your church.
Be dynamic like Spurgeon and people will download your sermons.
Be witty like Jimmy Fallon and people will read your blogs and like your posts.
Those aren’t necessarily bad things, but the trouble is,
our busy ego has one mission: take something, make it the ultimate thing and define yourself by that thing.
The idol making factory in our heart is always looking for something to be defined by.
This is why when Jesus instituted the gathering of the church, He made sure it revolved around Him. The bread and wine is the visible sign of an invisible reality: as our hearts are united to Christ, the Spirit topples over the idols we set up in our hearts (again) to the glory of the Father.
He calls us to worship. Our busy ego shuts its mouth.
He cleanses us in confession. Our busy ego bows it’s knee.
He communes with us in Word and sacrament. Our busy ego finds rest.
The gospel recalibrates us.
The gospel is the only place in your life where you receive your verdict before your performance. It is the only place we can go in our life where our verdict is not overturned by poor future performance.
If in the end, Christ’s work for you was kept valid by you – there would be no good news. Your busy ego would simply trade day to day activities for spiritual activities and then seek to be defined by those. [enter works righteousness, stage right]
The gospel boldly announces that our busy ego can find rest – not in who we are but whose we are.
We are free to love, serve and do good work for our neighbour. We can use our gifts, exercise our skills, pursue our passions without needing any of it to validate us. In Christ, our identity is not fragile, contingent upon our success or our failure. We are free from living life pining for acceptance and because we live from the confidence that we are already accepted.
We are loved, forgiven and free.
We are His.