The Powerful Link between Identity and Behavior


If you are wrestling with unhealthy or unholy behaviors, it may be because, deep down, that’s the kind of person you believe yourself to be. What would happen if you allowed Jesus to tell you who you are instead?

Join Josh and Kit as they discuss the link between identity and behavior, and how you can gain more freedom.

Click for Full Podcast Transcription

Josh 0:07
So I was thinking this morning about a very familiar, biblical passage, but something about it struck me in a different way. So that in the beginning of Mark and mark one, and then also in Luke five, we read the story of Jesus coming, he’s preaching. And then he asked to be put into Yes, to preach from Simon’s boat. And then and then asked Simon to go out into into the deeper waters to fish with him, they go out, they have this huge catch of fish to the point that their boats are overflowing, and Peter is struck, and he falls down in front of Jesus and says, Depart from me, Lord, fry, Miss sinful man. Jesus’s response is what struck me in a different way this morning, because something’s going on and Peter’s head there, and I can relate in others, he is encountering this powerful man of God. And he says, Depart from me, you shouldn’t be with me. I am a sinful man. And Jesus’s response has nothing to do with Peters behavior. He just says, Come with me. And I will make you fishers of men. So Josh Glaser with Kitt. Elmer here today, and we’re going to talk about this topic of identity and behavior, because they are really linked together. But coming back to the story, I think what I want to highlight is, if something’s going on in Peters head, Jesus can certainly discern what that might be what you know, something that Peters wrestled with his temper, his attitude, his pride, some type of ongoing sin, the way he treats his wife, the way he treats his brother, the way he was, you know, maybe yelling his brother all night last night, because they weren’t catching anything, but we don’t we don’t know. But Jesus doesn’t say, yeah, Peter, I know, let’s talk about the sinfulness in your life. He says, follow me. And I’ll make you a fisher of men. So Kitt. So actually, I’m going to be for asking the question. So here’s our here’s our premise, as we start off today, if you if you’re listening, and you are struggling with some type of behavior in your life, either behavior that you want to do, you want to nurture in your life that you’re not doing, or a behavior that you are doing, that you don’t want to do, you know, a sin that you keep committing, and I certainly had my share of those, the place to begin, may not be to specifically go after your behavior, the place to begin, is probably more likely to take a look at your sense of identity, your sense of who you are. Get what comes to mind when I say that, or whatever the story or

Unknown Speaker 3:07
what you know, it makes me

Kit 3:10
is it’s like Jesus was saying to Peter, let me show you who you are. Let me show you who you are, you know, like, and isn’t that what he wants to do? Isn’t that what he says? You know, like, he I think he often says to us, that’s not who you are, how you’re behaving isn’t who you are. Let me show you who you really are. So how do we how do we open ourselves up to to really receive that from him? Man?

Josh 3:41
I don’t I don’t know that, that we hear that much. I mean, I, I think a lot of us don’t live with that expectation. That’s what he says to us. I mean, you said he’s always I think a lot of us kind of almost expect on an on a kind of a knee jerk expectation or kind of something in our gut that expects that God is very much focused first and foremost on how well we’re doing. And maybe even focused on you know, how well we’re doing, as proof of, you know, whether or not he’s going to make us into something, you know, make us somebody, but the gospel flips out upside down. The gospel is, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He became a curse for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him. That’s an act that he is he has done for us, not something that we have to work ourselves into. Yeah. I have this memory when I was in high school. I had a, I was taking pre algebra, I think it was and it was, I was taking the class I had a D, and my interim report card came out and my mom saw that I had a D. And she was rightfully concerned. She said, Look, we don’t get DS in our family. You are grounded until you bring that grade up. And it produced all sorts of I mean, my attitude, the way that she was approaching it just there was a lot of like turmoil in our home at that point. And she was at her wit’s end. And I, now as a parent, I certainly sympathize with my mom. But the time that we were just butting heads, you know, I didn’t want to anyway, in the end, she called my teacher, and she said, Look, I just need your help. But what can we do? You know, I mean, Josh Kennedy, what what needs to happen here, his response, changed everything, his response was something to the effect of, and I’m going to pat myself on the back here a little bit, but something to the effect of Listen, other kids, so many of the kids in that class could learn a thing or two from Josh Glazer, about what it is to be a good kid. He doesn’t need any help. He’s gonna get it. It’s tough material, he’ll get it. Wow, she got a phone with him, walk down stairs in my room, open the door and said, You’re not grounded anymore. Wow, just love that. And I said, Yeah, I don’t know. Gosh, I don’t know what it was that he had seen me that, that he responded that way. But it changed. Everything in the gray came up, our relationship was restored. I mean, just good, good stuff came out of that.

Kit 6:09
What I love about that, and how it relates to how God sees us is he he knows who we are, He created us. And he has this vision for us because He created us. So just like this teacher somehow saw, I know who you are. I know who you are. And you weren’t even behaving in such a way that he was saying that behavior isn’t you but even if you had been you, like, you’d be like, and I and I feel like I I feel like that about myself, my children clients, like that’s not who you are, how you’re behaving isn’t the core of who you are. It’s not who you were created to be. We get we get caught up in it are the false self, but the world tells us we should be we believe it’s not true. It’s not who we really are. So, you know, yeah, that’s,

Josh 6:54
I think one of the challenges kid is that they’re that I think a lot of us, we live with our experience of the world, our experience of ourselves, and we let that define us. Absolutely any more souls knows it. And so I think, you know, when absolutely getting the bad grade, when returning to the sexual sin, when we’re in that kind of relationship, again, when we are failing at our job or too afraid to move, or whatever it is, the enemy comes and says, That’s because that’s who you are, you know, you’re just seeing the truth about who you are. And when we agree with that, and live with that. It’s subtle, it’s subtle, but I think that itself is it can be a paradigm shift for a lot of us to to begin to believe to acknowledge the risk, even the idea that what I’m doing my experience of myself, does not actually have the authority to tell me who I am.

Kit 7:51
I think you’re talking about a big thing here with identity, you know, the we believe lies about it. We we listen to lies about who we are and who we’re not. And and then it is a wake up call to be like, wait, wait, that’s not true. That’s a lie. What is true? What is true? Who am I? Yeah, and God, you’re the only one that knows. So will you tell me who I am? Will you tell me who I am? You know, what, what would you create me to be? And what you to create me to do? Like, I think that’s a great question. And that’s at the core of, you know, of our identity is who He created us to be and, and what He created us to do.

Josh 8:27
So kill me ask you, like, Where? And I’ll think about this too. But where in your life today? Would you say, you know, just looking at some area where Hey, this is not I’m not doing very well not doing the way I want to do? Where might that tie into an identity issue for you.

Kit 8:43
I mean, I think that all along the way, motherhood has been so humbling for me, because I when I started off being a mom, I was like, I got this, you know, I can do this. And then I was like, Whoa, this is I am, I am really failing, I am doing so much more poorly at this than I thought I would. And so, you know, part of what I’ve wrestled with is, you know, motherhood is a gift in my life. It’s not who I am, like, I tried to make motherhood, this image in the world that would give me a sense of identity that was twisted, you know, I needed to embrace who I was, as, you know, God’s beloved, and who’s been given a gift to be a mother, but I was striving and you know, trying to do it all right. And of course, I was failing because people do, and I just had it, I had it. I was all revved up about it, instead of realizing that that wasn’t my identity. That was a gift I’ve been given.

Josh 9:45
Well, and even but I wonder even like, what would it have been like for you or what is like for you? Instead of looking at how your kids are doing or how they’re responding or reacting or that kind of taking a look at how your mother And measuring up against whatever the standard is for, you know, quote unquote, a good mom. Yeah, here to lay all that aside as something that speaks to or informs your identity and instead begin from a place of God has made you a mother. And you are. I mean, how would that shift things?

Kit 10:18
That’s a great thing. And I think it makes me see a picture of myself in one way, I’d be looking at my child frustrated, because they’re not, you know, getting it or doing something right where the other if I’m like, oh, God’s made me a mother, that’s a gift he’s given me, then I’d be like, I’d be wanting to mother, this child

Josh 10:38
is an amazing I mean, it says it’s a it’s a slight shift in semantics. Yeah. But I think it’s a huge shift in

Kit 10:47
how we live. Yeah. What about you?

Josh 10:50
Well, you know, I know, for me, it used to be in the area of sexual temptation. And I’ve written a lot about this, and actually working on a book on it at some point, but I used to kind of have that attitude that, you know, lust is just something I do, you know, it is a part of me, and, and there were a lot of subtle lies that went underneath that for me, but I think when I really began to get my my head and heart around the idea that actually, you are not a man who lost and to be a man does not mean, like being a man itself is not, it does not mean you lost, being a man is actually doesn’t include loss, it mean includes love. And that’s what you’re designed for. That’s the truth. That began to change things for me there, which was really big, we talked more about that, and kind of how our ministry approaches those things. But in, you know, to be a little more vulnerable, I think the place I feel that most of these days has to do, or one of the places I feel the most has to do with serving as executive director of regeneration. I, you know, I’ve been 1313 years of an executive director and I have had in my mind, pictures of and words from, like, what a leader looks like. And, and that those are, that’s kind of my, you know, the spectrum that follows me around saying, how do you measure up to that, you know, like, how, Josh and where I don’t look like that I go, I’m not a good leader, or I’m not a good executive or failing, you know, I’m a failure. Where I do measure up to it. It’s been like, Oh, I’m good. I’m great. So but but both of those, whether I’m succeeding or not achieving those kinds of whatever that list is, if I let that inform my identity, and kind of be the litmus test for my identity, either way, it just Jacks me up. Yeah. Because if I’m doing poorly, I’m just beaten down. If I’m doing well, then I got to strive to keep it up. Yep. As opposed to, and I think this is a place I’m trying to try and enter and try and receive more from the Lord. And I’ve been successful to some degree, receiving that. Like, what God says about me, Joshua, I put you in this position, this is where I want you, you are the man for this job, then, then I can I can kind of breathe an air of a breath of relief, like okay, well, what does that mean, then about the areas that I’m good at? Well, it means that those are the pieces of spring to this job. What does it mean about the areas you’re not good at? I need some help. It’s not it no longer becomes this kind of shameful? Yeah, you’re not the guy for the job, it becomes a, you know, some something that I can actually act on as the guy for the job.

Kit 13:24
So one of the things I think we’re saying is that identity and really true identity can only come from God, but we get caught up in image that comes from the world. Yeah. And so being able to, you know, reflect on that and ask God about that, you know, where are we like, where are we just really vulnerable to this, these ideas of image? And what does it really mean to receive our identity? And, and that identity doesn’t have to be this, this fully formed thing. It’s just it’s your beloved. Right? So it doesn’t have to be this fully formed thing.

Josh 14:02
Yeah, you know, I do think images is a big, big piece. I mean, especially in our culture, because we are, we are obsessed with image. And, and, and I would dare say that we elevate image even over real essence, you know, or or maybe no more, yes, a way to say it is we, we think image equals essence. And it’s not true. Yeah. Yeah. But in addition to image I think that there there isn’t, there’s another level where there’s something in us I think that maybe I’ll speak for myself, there’s something in me that feels like my identity is connected to how well I’m doing. And that quote, unquote, how well I’m doing piece comes first. Yeah. Before the identity. Yeah. As opposed to the other way around. Yeah. I remember hearing this just struck me years ago, when someone talked about Jesus’s ministry and they said, you know, before he went into public ministry, he was baptized by john lennon. Baptist came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove. And these, this voice came from heaven that said, This is my beloved Son in whom I’m well pleased. Before Jesus had done anything publicly for his ministry. Yeah. And I think that’s, that’s our model that what we do, the good we do comes from that place of belovedness comes from that place of who we truly are.

Kit 15:26
So, Josh, you know, how we, we talk a lot about how God says, He loves us so much that He says, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, or what you ever do, nothing will change the way I love you. And we that’s true with our children, right? We say we believe that, like, so. But how do we really believe that? You know, and I feel like we talked about that a lot. But, you know, like, is it Is that true? Like, no matter what we do, or you know, what we’ve done, and will ever do, God’s still gonna love us. And our identity is still intact. Right?

Josh 16:01
Right. Yeah. So let’s get into that. Let’s get into like, you know, if it’s true that our behavior comes from our identity, our sense of our identity, that how do we nourish a god given identity as opposed to how we measure up to the world or to whatever it is in our head or a heart about that? I think this is where we come back to the question of intimacy, because intimacy, birth identity, intimacy, births, identity. So think, again, I’ve talked to this before, but on a biological level, every single one of us who’s who’s come into the world, like we are a result physically a biological result of our mothers and fathers intimacy, that’s God’s design. And if that’s true on that physical level there, then it’s also I think that’s a representation of it’s also true of our larger identity. And this is why I think in john three, Jesus talks about this, he says, to Nicodemus, like, Look, you actually have to be born of water in the spirit and he kind of comes back to this. Your, you know, Nicodemus is confused, like, well, do I have to wait, you said to enter into my mother’s womb, I have to be that must mean being born again means and then God? Jesus is saying, like, No, you need a new birth. And it comes from intimacy, it comes from intimacy with with Jesus and said a different way. It comes in, in union with him, as we, in faith, unite ourselves to God, then then something happens to our identity. And we become according to Paul, we become a new creation, the oldest gun in the newest column. Yeah. And that now, okay, now, I said all that that’s the theology but practically speaking, Okay, got it. You know, does that mean then? How do we actually live that out? How do we actually take that in drink that in your new identity? Yeah. So Kate, what comes to mind? Well,

Kit 17:47
what comes to me is the power of that union. And I keep thinking about the power of acceptance. Like if this new person that we’re, we’re embracing, that’s in full union with God, and somehow we receive that that means full acceptance. That’s, that allows us I was just thinking about the relationships in my life that I feel accepted in relationships, where I don’t feel accepted, and how I how I live differently.

Josh 18:17
How do you live differently? What do you mean?

Kit 18:18
Well, one is freedom. One is a sense of freedom and a sense of, you know, no self rejection, where the other one is self rejection and watching myself all the time. And, you know, so there’s this freedom in this union with God that He says, I will love you no matter what. I accept you, I created you. I’m with you. That that just frees us and empowers us in a way that’s, you know, unlike anything we experience.

Josh 18:47
Yeah. No, I think that’s I think that’s right. And that’s part of my, that moment with that teacher where I yeah, he’s I mean, my grade, I had a D in his class. I mean, that was that was those are the facts, the facts, you know, like, yeah, and he saw something that went deeper than that.

Kit 19:02
So what does that do to us? What does that do to our sense of identity and who we are when, when we believe and see believe that God sees us that way?

Josh 19:10
So I think, I think practically speaking, when we talk about intimacy, births, identity, I think it means a couple of things. One, it brings us back to the importance of of our relationship with God and putting ourselves in environments where we can simply be with him. I think a couple does that I think it we have to we have to we have to face admit acknowledge press into those places where we really don’t think he wants to be there or we don’t feel connected to him. Yes. Yes. ignoring those things or just trying to, you know, rush on like they don’t matter, I think actually leaves places in us that most need him. Yeah. vulnerable to living without him.

Unknown Speaker 19:52

Josh 19:54
And then I think we also need that the intimacy of community we need others around us. who get to know us who we let in? So they know us. And, and it’s a good community safe community that that can see beyond our present doing, whether it’s good or bad, you know, positive or another successful and failing? And who can who can discern with the Lord’s help? Yeah, who we are. And, you

Kit 20:21
know, we see that in groups here, I was just talking about this earlier with the client that you’re in this group. And you’re like, I don’t know if I’m going to say anything really about what’s really going on with me. But then somebody risked to say, this is who I this is what I’ve been doing, this is what I’m struggling with. And then everybody around the room goes, Oh, oh, this is a place where we can do that. And it’s like God, because we invite him in creates this place for people to be like, this is this is what I’m, this is the truth. This is what I’m really struggling with. And it feels safe here. Because God’s here for me to say this stuff, and to do it with you all, who are also trusting God, to be able to say the real deal.

Josh 20:59
Yeah, what you’re talking about is, is not letting that fear that what I’ve done, or what I think or feel, the secret place is not letting those things keep me from risking you. You seeing that? That’s my identity. You know, like I think, yeah, when I confess or share those, those deep places that I feel so ashamed about that, that that why MERS read why I read as into doing that is because I think once you hear that, you’re gonna think oh, that’s who he is. Yeah. And to have a safe environments to find like, No, we don’t believe that’s who you are. We we understand. That’s what you’re experiencing when you’re seeing this what you’re doing. But there’s something true about who you are. And we may not know who that is or what that is about that does, but we’re gonna go to God together and find out who

Kit 21:44
you are. He’s our great teacher in that he’s the he’s the one where we learned that how to ever do that in a group. Yeah, right. Yeah, ever, ever do that? It’s he’s the the amazing author. And, you know, truth teller, right?

Josh 21:57
And I love the link between you know, I love that word author. Because the author, that word is embedded in the word authority. He is the one who has the authority to tell you, you know, you’re the characters in his play, you know, he’s writing the story. He is the only one only has the authority. Yes, to tell you what your name is, who you are, what’s your like? What’s your characters, like? What your part in the story is?

Kit 22:23
I think that’s so huge. No one has the power or the right or the authority to tell you who you are except God. And don’t, don’t allow that. Just seek him for it. And that’s, that’s a huge truth.

Josh 22:34
Yeah. So we know what to say. Or I guess we want to close by with a couple thoughts for you as you’re listening. One is, this is often not stuff you can just do on your own. Because we have these subtle beliefs. And it takes help to kind of go layer by layer into some of those places that believe unholy things about ourselves or untrue things about ourselves. And it and it does take I think, you know, that that somebody’s looking back at us, you know, that their face, hearing our story. And then and then praying with us being with us to help us kind of lift us from that. I think that’s just just to go back to this that. Again, if you’re struggling with some ongoing behavioral issue, something you’re not doing that you want to be doing something you are doing that you don’t want to be doing a sin you can’t shake, sexual or otherwise, the place to go is Who do you believe you are? Who Who do you on a deep level believe you are, if you returning to that kind of relationship over and over again, and it’s not good for you? Chances are deep down inside you believe that’s what you’re worth. And that’s what you need. If you’re returning to that sin over and over again. And you and you feel ashamed about it. Chances are you’re not returning to it because you’re because that’s who you are. You’re returning because because you believe that you’re shameful person who does those kinds of things. Yeah. And that flips everything upside down and informs how we do accountability forms, how we pray for each other forms how we do confession. So much we can say about that. But let me close in a word of prayer for for all of us. So Lord, right now I asked that you would put your finger this is I asked him that question. Maybe go put your finger runs on some area. If you haven’t already for our listeners. Some of you are either struggling with behaviorally something they’re doing or not doing. Now, Lord, would you take each of us to what we are believing is true about who we are. That place that is that is driving that behavior are driving us to not do those behaviors we want to do. And Lord, would you lead us and teach us and tell us who you see that we are who you see that we are or thank you that you see. It’s not that you ignore our sin or sin doesn’t matter. Not that what we do or don’t do doesn’t matter, but it’s that you see through that, to who we are. You want us to know who we are as your sons and daughters as your beloved and will Leave it on a deep, deep level that we might live out of that as those who are created to be before the foundation the world connected to you, and living with you and for you in this world. Thank you, Lord. Please do this floor in Jesus name.

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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.

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