The context of the quote I posted last night is important.
But self-affirmation and self-emptying are not opposites, because we can never give away what we do not have. We are unable to give ourselves in love when we are not aware of ourselves. We don't ever come to intimacy without having found and claimed our identity. Jesus lived thirty years in a simple family. There He became a man who knew who He was and where He wanted to go. Only then was He ready to empty Himself and give His life for others. His is the way of all ministry. Through long and often painful formation and training, we ministers have to find our place in life, to discover our own contribution, and to affirm our own self: not to cling to it and claim it as our own unique property, but to go out, offer our services to others, and empty ourselves so that God can speak through us and invite others to new life.
So our identity as pastors and ministers, as it becomes visible in our pastoral care, is born from the intangible tension between self-affirmation and self-denial, self-fulfillment and self-emptying, self-realization and self-sacrifice. There are periods in life in which the emphasis is more on one than on the other, but in general it seems that as we become more mature we will become less concerned with girding ourselves and more willing to stretch out our hands and to follow Him who found His life by losing it. (Henri Nouwen in Creative Ministry, pp. 58-59)
This issue of claiming identity is important... We talked about it in one of my classes last year. The need to wrestle with identity really never goes away. It is why we need alone time sometimes. Wrestling with my identity means facing what I don't want to accept about myself, making a conscious choice not to bury it but instead to use it as a resource for personal growth and change and even for the work that I do with others. It's not always an easy thing to do.