March 4, 2014
When someone asks, “Who are you?” what do you reply? Most of us will say things like, I am a homemaker … a psychiatrist (fill in your profession) … a father, soccer mom, or volunteer. Sometimes a role we play in life can become our main identity. Our world then actually revolves around that part of our life … and it can make us feel good about ourselves. Super mom … world’s best dad … successful career person … accomplished musician … popular pastor … well-known writer … politician … beloved teacher … computer whiz … helper of others – like doctor, nurse, volunteer for a non-profit, feeder of the homeless. But these don’t really answer the question because these answers describe what we do, not who we are. Although these are good roles to play, if we aren’t careful, they can hinder our growth and even lead to our downfall.
When we start thinking what we do is our main identity, our focus on Jesus and His plan for us will certainly diminish. On one end, pride can set in as we begin thinking this cool role and these great accomplishments are our own doing. On the opposite end, we can battle fear. As we invest in that role or persona, and raise others’ expectations of us to high levels, we have to keep up that performance so people will know us and care about us … otherwise we wouldn’t know what else to do.
When you watch the Super Bowl, it’s easy to see athletes who are defined by their skill and even develop a persona around it. Unfortunately, this posing leads them down some terrible paths. Think about Lance Armstrong, Mike Vick, Ray Lewis, Tiger Woods, OJ Simpson, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Clinton, Charlie Sheen, Jimmy Baker, and Lindsay Lohan, and recently, Justin Bieber. They are famous examples of an all too common phenomena: when what we do (and excel at) becomes our identity, it can spiral out of control and become an idol or even an addiction.
As Christians, we all have the same innate identity … we are children of God and followers of Christ. He will give all of us a special combination of gifts. He will develop us through diverse experiences and situations and lead us into distinct roles. He will give us opportunities to represent Him wherever we are and whatever we do. But the bottom line is this: We are His children. That’s our main identity. That’s who we are. And nothing could be better.
We need to keep this mindset and focus at all times, because it dramatically affects how we view the circumstances we experience and our interactions with others … every minute of every single day. Most importantly, this powerful identity should strongly influence our decision-making, because true peace, confidence, and self-control radiate from our identity with God.
Today, think about how you last answered the question, “Who are you?” How has this answer affected your present course in life? If you answer by saying, “follower of and ambassador for Christ,” ask if this is an intellectual answer only, or one that truly guides and determines your daily thoughts, feelings, and actions. Make it your identity and attitude today! Journal about some of your wrong decisions. What was your identity in the specific moment of that decision? If you are honest, the answer will be very revealing. It will be a great place for you to begin doing some work. Whether you identify yourself with Christ or you identify with something more transient, less stable, and more shallow is your decision, so choose well.
Father, thank You for the gifts and opportunities You’ve given me. Help me to remember that I am first and foremost Your child. Help me to use these gifts and opportunities to honor You. May I never become proud of myself for anything I do. Help me to always remember that all good and perfect gifts come from You. Encourage and equip me to see myself through Your lenses only. I pray this and all prayers through the One who gives us our identity, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
So I have reason to be enthusiastic about all Christ Jesus has done through me in my service to God. Yet I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has done through me. Romans 15:17-18