ABOUT THE BOOKIn my practice as a clinical counselor, people come to me in crisis. They think their crisis is being unhappy with how their lives are going. My first objective is to help them know their real struggle.
I like to divide crises into the fish kind and the caterpillar kind. A fish decides to eat a worm; a caterpillar accepts the challenge to become a butterfly. Both have different risks and rewards.
Most people end up with a fish crisis not realizing there is another option. They’ve already taken the bait, hoping that their circumstances will change for the better. But the bait turns out to be too good to be true; it has a hook—a painful realization that they’ve overcommitted to something that can’t satisfy their hunger.
My goal for this book is to convince you to accept the challenge of the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. A butterfly crisis requires work and patience, but the result is incomparably better. Jesus came to set you free from the hook. He wants you to see your potential beyond a caterpillar. To live abundantly, you must recognize you have the power to become a butterfly.
I’m assuming you want to follow God, or you’re at least open to the idea. But you’re stuck, unable to find your place in the world and the church. I want you to see that your problem isn’t your circumstances; your problem is not knowing who you truly are.
The Gospel changes everything. When we accept God’s salvation, He no longer sees us as unworthy sinners. But I often encounter Christians who hold onto their old self-image.
We must see ourselves through God’s eyes. God considers us as sanctified and perfected, even though His work in us is an ongoing process:
We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
—Hebrews 10:10, 14
In correcting our self-image, we need to have a clear picture of the God who made us. God is almighty—eternally self-sufficient. The enemy twists this fact to attempt to make us dull, despondent, and defeated. You don’t really matter to God; you’re on your own. While God is able to carry on and enact His will without us, He chooses not to. He desires to take our shame, self-pity, and self-deprecation and make us His sons and daughters.
Until you see yourself as worthwhile, you’ll underestimate your significance and limit your contribution to God’s kingdom. You must throw off your worthlessness and fully embrace the reality and identity God has for you.
God has a specific purpose for your existence. You’re a unique creation, so your active participation is essential. He chose to make you a vital part of His plans, part of the body of Christ. In the reality that God has created, each of us is irreplaceable. He desires fellowship with us and wants to see us thrive. It is in this sense that God needs us. If none of us were to rise up to do His bidding, He could make the rocks cry out, but that’s not going to happen. God made us to praise Him and praise Him we will.
God has great plans for you, but you can’t accomplish anything apart from God. We need God’s strength and determination to work in and through us, just as Jesus relied on His Father throughout His life. When we participate by faith, God empowers us. Instead of passively waiting for God to topple the giants in your life, consider that He may be calling you to fight, as David did, with the strength of God’s Spirit within you.
Since God has committed to partnering with us to the very end, don’t hesitate to step out in faith to discover who you are and to seek to advance God’s kingdom. To this end, I invite you to identity and beyond.
Look to your past to be thankful you’re saved. You can be overjoyed because you’re a new creation who is free from sin and an eternal death. Look to the future to remain assured of a glorious victory. But don’t neglect to look to the present where you can make a significant difference.
ENDORSEMENTSFor myself and for many around me, the question "Who am I?" keeps popping up, followed soon after by "Where am I headed?"
Matt Pavlik has written a practical yet profound answer, well worth reading, in his book To Identity and Beyond. As I read, I kept thinking, practical, practical, practical! This book isn't just telling me where I should be but is telling me how to get there (in detail) and how to know if I am there (in detail) and it's all done in simple, easily understood terms.
Whether you are confident in your identity or not, read this book!
If you can pick up a book and find it substantiates God's word, reiterates some things you know and teaches you something new, or in this case many many things, you have found a good book. This is a good book!
–Dee A. Chesser
- Study guide available by request.
Example Study Questions
2. What does play the long game mean? How are you doing this now, and what can you do to improve?
3. What does advancing God’s kingdom mean to you? How strongly do you desire this?
4. What does having an abundant life mean to you? How satisfied are you with your life?
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He's written two other books: one on identity and another one on marriage. He has more than 15 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. He completed his Masters in Clinical Pastoral Counseling from Ashland Theological Seminary and his Bachelors in Computer Science from the University of Illinois. Matt and his wife Georgette have been married over 20 years and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.