Four Key Indicators of Shared Identity 

When we embrace shared identity we may not always be able to predict the outcomes, but here are four key indicators that reveal God is at work through our relationships anchored by our shared identity.


Sustained Change

Getting ourselves or others motivated past a few weeks is not an easy task. Change that lasts is hard work. Turning a canoe is one thing, but trying to redirect a barge-sized city is an entirely different endeavor.  There is value in being connected through moments and experiences, we are designed to naturally graft alongside each other in crisis, but addressing systemic issues within a city calls for shared identity.

Processes for change will certainly hit a snag or a few, and when obstacles appear and tensions mount we will need to be grounded by shared identity.  As Ephesians speaks of being “rooted and stablished in love,” we picture a tall wide tree, something deeply established in the soil, surviving winds and storms. The same applies to shared identity, and while moments of shared experiences gift us with a level of cohesion, the deeper the depths of our shared identity the more grounded and established we will be to do the work of change in spite of the storms we will face.

Even consider your own personal habits. Anyone can do a new thing for a short time, but building upon consistent repetition over time produces something beyond applying a trend or a fad for a moment, but crafts something much sweeter, something that becomes part of who we are. Shared identity within community moves us from short bursts of excitement across our area to sustained change to pass along to future generations.


We Can Disagree

Proverbs 27:17 reads, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” The writer of this proverb undoubtedly knew that when iron sharpens iron, sparks fly. Otherwise he might have penned, “When feather sharpens feather.” There is this understanding that if we are aiming to forget change, there will need to be a certain level of friction, necessary tension that requires stretching and shifting. When we operate from a position of shared identity we are able to not only “go along to get along,” but actually disagree in an effort to be authentic, challenge assumptions, and produce what will ultimately be a better outcome.

Shared identity allows you to remain an individual in the midst of a community, you can be an “I” in the midst of a “we,” honoring your opinions and bringing your ideas to the table because you can trust you connected by something more than a task.


People Will Notice

Consider the icons of real sustained change–the hero’s we honor because of how their presence on this planet transformed something that still impacts us today. When you ponder these historical figures it is easy to see how they fostered shared identity, radically uniting us when the world was demanding more division.

People will notice when you begin to focus on shared identity.  You will be different, you will lead differently. The world focuses on categories and divisions, systems that divide us want to stay in place and will resist anything that threatens what has become our norm. Change, turning a tide, or providing a true remedy through unity, will rock the boat. People will wonder why and how the obstacles that once seemed so insurmountable are slowly fading and things are actually changing.  Curiosity will evolve into action as other leaders begin to recognize the possibility of change.


It Looks Like Jesus

When you consider the common threads in the messages and interactions of Jesus it is not difficult to recognize how He continuously highlighted shared identity. When Jesus would encounter the marginalized or outcast, He would remind them of their true place, purpose and identity in the Kingdom.  When He would dine with a religious leader or meet with the wealthy, He would reawaken them to their common identity among God’s people. He trained and sent out his apostles so that they would continue the work He began, to bring the foundational truth of our shared identity in God to everyone they encountered. His work was not easy, and it was not always popular. Much like our cultural climate today, Jesus faced a world that gravitated toward divisions and what separates us. To be a leader that searches for, cultivates, and empowers shared identity is part of leading like Christ.

So look around. Where can you see shared identity at work in your community? How can you be a leader that rallies your neighbors, friends, or church family? How can you be a part of what ABBA is doing in the city, how can you be a bridge builder through trust and shared identity? Join us.