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Identity Motivated Living™
is an expression that embodies the essence of the Christian life. Jesus Christ comes into us to dwell, creating in us new life, a new creation, and a new nature. Power wells up from this new nature, motivating us to good works out of love for God. Our new identity comes from the Father; we have Jesus living in us always; and the Holy Spirit empowers us to be more and more like Christ.
Jesus uses the term, “...I am,” to reference himself in John 8:58. Thus, the acronym I. M. Living refers to “Christ in us the hope of Glory.”
Dr. Maurice E. Wagner embraced this as a slogan for the unique concepts he discerned during his 60 years of ministry.


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Dr. Wagner was a pioneer Christian counselor. His work began near Portland, Oregon, in 1940. At that time, while he was a pastor, he continued his education, receiving a Th.B. degree from Western Baptist Theological Seminary in 1943. He later received a B.S. degree from Lewis and Clark College in 1947. In 1950, he moved his family to Chicago to pursue more studies. There he received the degrees of B.D. and Th.M. from the Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. He pastored a nearby church for the next eleven years. It was in a densely populated urban area. He worked there pastoring many emotionally hurting people.
In 1956, Dr. Wagner became part-time chaplain at the Downey V.A. Mental Hospital, just north of Chicago. He served there for over four years. As he ministered, he took special notice of how Bible truths solved the emotional needs of people, both in and out of the hospital. His experience as a pastor-counselor and chaplain stimulated him to pursue research in the application of Biblical truth to human experience.
In 1961, he left his Chicago pastorate to accept the challenge of being the first counselor at the Narramore Christian Foundation, in California. (the origin of
The Rosemead School of Psychology in La Mirada, CA) While he was a full-time counselor, Dr. Wagner studied and received the degree of Ph.D. in 1969 from the Southern California Institute of Psychology in Beverly Hills.
In 1979, Dr. Wagner moved to Atascadero where he began the Mid-Coast Counseling Service. In 1989, he retired from counseling. He devoted his time to writing, preparing practical studies which apply Biblical truth. Shortly after retiring, he founded Christian Growth Publishers, Inc., so that his writings would be a blessing to many.
He also founded Christian Maturity Ministries, Inc. so that generous people could donate funds to make his books available to foreign missions and in U.S. prisons.
In July of 2005, while writing, his heart failed and the Lord took him home. He left his writings and his desire to mature the church to his son, Maurice T. Wagner, who seeks to faithfully publish and communicate the truths Dr. Wagner discovered.
Dr. Wagner wrote this about how he came to his unique understanding and that he wrote the Series Become The Person God Meant You to Be:

In the middle of a night in 1950, the phone rang. “Hello. I’m sorry to bother you, Pastor Wagner,” a young lady was saying with a hurried alarmed voice. “Joyce, who has attended your church a few times, is unconscious here on her bed. She has taken all the pills in this bottle! She hasn’t been this way very long.” She explained more, “I live in the room across the hall. I heard a knock, and then this piece of paper was slipped under my door. It says, ‘Call Pastor Wagner.’ I put on a robe and came into her room. I can’t arouse her. What can we do?”
I called a doctor friend who admitted Joyce to a nearby hospital to which she was taken by ambulance. Her stomach was pumped. The next day I visited the hospital and found a very groggy Joyce who was awake enough to bawl me out for interfering with her suicide plans. My wife and I worked with her intensively for seven months in cooperation with a psychiatrist who took an interest in handling the case on a walk-in basis. Our efforts were finally successful, though many times we certainly wondered if they would be. Joyce’s severe depressions became manageable, and she went on her way to live with her aged mother in an Eastern city.
This wasn’t the first crisis of unusual proportions God allowed me to experience. In the mid 1940’s, about five years before Joyce, a young man, seventeen, an only child of two of our busiest church workers, murdered two elderly people for no reason he could give. I was close to him and his family. He was apprehended and sentenced to life imprisonment.
These two experiences, along with an uncountable number of appeals for help from emotionally disturbed Christians, jolted me into realizing that being a pastor was very serious work. In those years, professional counseling was almost unknown to the Christian community and scarcely acknowledged as a profession. My cry to God was, “How does biblical truth apply to this human need?” I read whatever I could find to help answer that question. My seminary training had not touched the subject of counseling.
During our eleven-year Chicago pastorate, soon after my experience with Joyce, God led me to fellowship with a retired pastor, Abram Meirop, who had a profound influence upon my thinking. He was a volunteer chaplain at both the Chicago State Hospital and the Chicago Tuberculosis Sanitarium. This dear servant of God showed me by example that a Christlike love for people is the most effective therapeutic agent in helping the emotionally distressed. “It isn’t what you know, but Who you know” that counts! I accepted a few of his invitations to follow him through the wards as he made his rounds. He seemed to know everyone personally and showed genuine interest in each person. Especially in the mental hospital the patients crowded around him, each reaching for a chance just to touch him and to receive some personal show of interest from what he had to say. In each ward it was the same. It must have been something like the way people flocked around Jesus when He was on earth. My friend’s visits were consistently regular, and the patients knew they had a real friend.
In 1956 I began serving as a quarter-time chaplain at the Downey Veteran’s Hospital near Chicago. The first day of duty, after surveying the situation in many wards, I sought a quiet place to ask God for the reason He had so clearly led me to that position. The answer came immediately, and it was as clear as if Christ Himself were in the room with me. “You’ve always wanted to know how Bible truth applies to emotional problems. I am here to show you.” And He did.

I spent the next four and one-half years fulfilling my duties as a chaplain and learning everything I could from this laboratory of emotional distress. I got acquainted with many doctors, nurses, and aides. I took time to investigate what they knew in their field. I became personally acquainted with many patients and studied their file folders to learn their diagnosis and treatment. Finally the reason for and the answer to emotional illness congealed in my mind. The insights were embryonic, but the essence was biblical. A few patients who were ready to listen found the key to their emotional problem and were soon out of the hospital, and they have stayed out.
In 1961 the Lord led me from the active pastorate to full-time counseling with the Narramore Christian Foundation in Los Angeles. Dr. Clyde Narramore is a man of vision, and I am thankful for his helpful influence. The day the licensing law was passed in 1964 I applied for and obtained a Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling license from the State of California. In the mid 1960’s, I worked on my doctorate in psychology, and in 1969 I received my Ph.D. After eight years of full-time counseling with the Foundation, I opened my own counseling practice, though I still shared in Dr. Narramore’s ministry as opportunity afforded.
The insight I had gained at Downey was valid, and during the thirty years since that time that insight has developed into a system of understanding human behavior and of helping those who are afflicted with emotional distress. All along the way, the Lord has shown me how effectively He works through divine truth when that truth is coupled with the sincere efforts of caring love. This volume is the beginning of a training program to help my fellow Christians to become the persons God meant them to be. In doing so, they will be preparing themselves for service to others who are in distress.
Twenty-eight years of intensively counseling people, most of them professing Christians, has left me with a sense of the need in the Christian community for specific doctrinal teaching on how to apply God’s Word to every day life-situations. God’s ways are almost always contradictory to man’s ways of handling life-situations. The teachings presented in this course are an elaboration and application of a division of Systematic Theology called “The Doctrine of Man.”
In 1974, I wrote “Put It All Together,” published by Zondervan, on developing inner security. In 1975, I wrote “The Sensation of Being Somebody,” also published by Zondervan and now by Christian Growth Publishers (, which is about building an adequate self-concept.
The Volume you now hold is the beginning of a series of studies in becoming the person God meant you to be. This volume contains what I believe to be the essential doctrines of spiritual growth for any Christian, whether young in the faith or older. The next volume explains our significance to God as born-again Christians. The next, how we are to deal with our emotions as Christians and to overcome feelings of insecurity. The fourth, deals with coping with life’s troubling situations. After the reader has finished these four volumes, he can proceed to the next phase of training in developing godly love by studying to become a Caring Christian Friend who is prepared to help hurting people who are wanting help.
The first phase is one year of personal spiritual growth. The second phase is another year plus one month in qualifying to become a Caring Christian Friend, authorized to be helpful.
It is always God’s process to begin with small things and let them grow to become larger, to take what you have in your hand and use it to accomplish, by His grace and leading, what no person can do alone. Our Lord’s feeding of the five thousand and the staff in Moses’ hand are good examples.
God cautions the churches about using novices in His work. He wants us to be prepared and ready for His work that He has called each one of us to do, whether or not we have had the privilege of Bible school or seminary training. We must first become the person God wants us to be before we can do the work God wants us to do.