Reflection: Gospel vs Religion as the Basis of Leader Identity
‘As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…’ (Ephesians 2:1)
Religion exacerbates the predisposition in our hearts to feel superior or inferior. The more we rely on our own efforts to procure God’s blessings, the more likely we oscillate back and forth between superiority (‘I am better than others, have done more than others!’) and inferiority (‘Compared to others, I haven’t done enough for God’).
In contrast, the gospel prevents us from ever feeling superior or inferior to others. Consider the following two-pronged truth of the gospel.
You are not a legend. You are a sinner saved by grace. All your achievements will be forgotten in two generations, three at the most. Even the world’s giants, given enough time, will be nothing but a negligible footnote in history. Your sins are so great that Jesus Christ had to die to atone for them. Never feel superior about yourself.
Yet, you are not mass produced. You are not even a limited edition. You are one of a kind in this world, a masterpiece of God. You are individually customized for a specific purpose he wants you to achieve. You are so loved that Jesus Christ was willing to die for you. Never feel inferior about yourself.
The extent to which you hold both sides of the gospel in a creative tension will help you to rightly enjoy people’s praises without succumbing to pride (not feeling superior), and wisely deal with people’s criticisms without being sucked into despair (not feeling inferior).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I need to preach the gospel to my own soul daily. For I am prone to wander, Lord, and make my work-righteousness my identity. Take and seal my heart, Lord, for Christ and his gospel alone.