After planting Movement Church in 2013, I hosted dinners and small groups, scheduled volunteers, held babies, and made coffee before stepping on stage to play the piano with my own daughter Baby Ergo-ed onto my chest. Like many leaders during the first few years post-launch, I wore several hats. I felt like I could be the one woman who could really do it all. (Spoiler alert: I was wrong and the woman who can do it all does not exist–if you meet her please give her my contact information.). In hindsight, I was wearing too many hats, spread too thin across many areas.
If I’m not careful, I can easily slip back into the “try and do it all” mentality. I can say yes to too many things and fail to empower other leaders around me. I want to lean into my strengths and help lead a community where everyone sees him or herself as a leader. However, regardless of my leadership responsibilities or role at our church, if my identity is not centered on who I am in Christ, I can easily confuse my identity with my production.
In Bloom’s latest book project titled Named + Known, fourteen women in church planting come together to share stories around the topic of identity. Several of their stories touch on the idea of self-discovery and learning. Named + Known is divided into four sections: unknown identity, mistaken identity, unexpected identity, and secure identity. As the editor for this project, I loved diving into these stories and could relate to many of the perspectives of the writers as they too shared about the ups and downs of this church planting adventure.
In the opening section of Named + Known, Vanessa Bush reveals her own story of unknown identity while planting New City Church with her husband in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2010. Vanessa discusses how she had a skewed perception of perfection as a woman in church planting, often comparing herself to women whom she felt had it all together. Here is a short excerpt from her chapter:
When I stood next to these other women in ministry (or rather placed them next to myself in my imagination), my insecurities flashed red in my mind’s eye.
I remember vividly a conversation my husband and I had about a year into our church planting journey. This was about the time the excitement had worn off. I had strong-armed myself into doing so many duties I was not gifted for, hence I was getting weary. I actually apologized to him for my personality. I revealed to him that I thought he had married the wrong person because I could not do the spreadsheets and the administrative processes and the org charts. And if I looked at any church management software for one second longer, I would probably die.
My husband looked me in the eyes and said, “You are exactly the right person for me.”
He showed me qualities I hadn’t been able to see as gifts. I moved thousands of miles from my home and saw every step as a grand adventure. I embraced New Mexico enthusiastically and was committed to understanding my place. It was my frontier that I’d been divinely sent to. I optimistically thought every person I encountered was probably the next member of our new church. I planned their baptism services before we had even had a conversation. I was always in the mood for a party. And I didn’t mind when he brought people home for dinner last minute. My rose-colored glasses were so thick that it didn’t even occur to me that our church might not make it. I had an unwavering faith that God was in control. If I were the type of person who needed all my ducks in row, the uncertainty and highs and lows of our church planting journey would have made me lose my feathers.
We’ve all heard comparison is the thief of joy. But did you know it also robs you of seeing truth and fulfilling your purpose?
God has given me a fingerprint that is unlike anyone else’s because he has a purpose for me that no one else can fulfill. My husband, my church, and my city need me, not someone else. They certainly do not need the make-believe, perfect, cookie-cutter women in church planting I had created in my head and was exhaustedly trying to become. And the reason why I was exhausted was because, of course, those women don’t even exist.
Whether you struggle with production or perfection (or both), I hope you believe today that your identity is first and foremost as a child of God: fully named and known by him.
Heidy helps empower women to thrive in all areas of church planting. Prior to church planting and her role in Bloom, Heidy worked for 10 years in Leadership Development and Higher Education. She and her husband Josh planted Movement Church in Newport, KY in March, 2014 and have two amazing kiddos, Isaac and Clara Jo. Heidy is also passionate about storytelling and making any event or activity just a little more fun.