[callout]Among my many passions is the desire to help children, teens, and adults know their identity. Who we think we are is significantly important. This self-knowledge directs our thoughts, feelings, interactions, decisions … all our behavior.

Our identity needs to be accurate. It’s so easy to believe lies about who we are. Some think they must have “this proof” that they are who they are. That “proof” might be a piece of paper as my friend and colleague, Joyce Baker, writes about here. I believe her points are powerful and I’m glad she’s allowing me to share it here.

Please read this carefully and then consider reading it to the teens and young adults you know. If they, too, are believers as Joyce and I are, please talk about this. I’d love to know if you do and how the discussions go.[/callout]

We Are Defined By God, Not A Piece Of Paper – by Joyce Baker

Today I hold in my hand a piece of paper stating that I now possess a Bachelor of Arts degree. I’m not a different person than I was yesterday before I had it. It is not what has qualified me to minister in the areas and to the people whom God has directed for me. It doesn’t make me a better person or necessarily make me more educated. I’ve spent my life learning; it just hasn’t always been under the tutelage of a university.

I am thankful for God allowing me the opportunity to complete my degree after all these years, but I’m not defined by it. I’m defined by God. He gave me an insatiable desire to learn and I continue to do so. After I ended my formal tutelage I began learning how to be a wife, how to minister beside my husband, how to be a mom, how to be there with someone at the death of their dearest family member, how to help people during a crisis, how to manage a classroom, how to reach that child who had shut down emotionally, how to awaken children to the giftings God had given them, how to walk through the darkness and wait on God, how to share His love, and how to mentor young ladies, young mothers, and teachers. I learned how to begin a school, fund it, staff it, and get it accredited … all without a piece of paper saying I was qualified to do what God had put before me to do.

I am certainly not opposed to formal education, but it shouldn’t be the defining or limiting factor in a person’s life. My husband and I have been blessed with four children and three grandchildren. All of our children have graduated from college and are disciples serving the Lord in different ways. Two of our children are currently working on their master’s degrees. By the grace of God, through us living in accordance to His Word (not in perfection), I witnessed my children grow through mistakes, experience the blessings of obedience, and have unspeakable joy and true peace while walking through adversity and in being wronged.

There is no higher calling, or degree conferred, than to make disciples and watch them make disciples. That is the commission conferred upon us by Christ Himself.

Recognize who God has made you to be and the areas in which He has given you opportunity to influence lives in ways that only you can do. If you struggle to recognize these areas, ask the Lord to show you just how special He has made you.

[callout] JB_Square_022216_122424_PMJoyce Baker is the mother of four grown children and three precious grandchildren. She studied at Howard Payne University and has served side by side with her husband, Steve, in ministry for more than thirty-four years. Joyce has over thirty years of teaching experience which ranges from teaching in private Christian school, public school, a charter school, and homeschooling. She also co-founded a NAUMS school and served as Academic Dean and taught at various levels. Her ministry is marked with the recognition that every child is a unique individual with purpose and a need for those unique qualities to be encouraged. Joyce delights in igniting passion in her students for learning and growing together while exploring the wonders of God and His creation.[/callout]