The Search for Personal Identity: Are You a Who or a What?

So many people, maybe all of us, are searching for our personal identity. Most of us are known by “what” we do or have done rather than “who” we are. If someone asks, “Who is Tim Rhodus?” the most common answers will be based on how you know me. If you know me through my job you might answer, “He’s the pastor at Cross Church”. If you know me through knowing my amazing wife you might answer, “He’s Kathi’s husband”. If you know me through our children you might answer, “He’s Trevor and Annie’s dad”. All of those answers would be correct, but they merely describe who I am by “what” I do, rather than who I am by my true personhood.

We tend to define others and ourselves by jobs, failures, successes, titles, relationships, accomplishments, our current situations and circumstances, performance, etc. And as we define ourselves and others by those things we also tend to sub-consciously assign value and worth to ourselves and others. If one’s identity is wrapped up in being a baseball player, they feel valued, etc when they are hitting home runs; but when they are striking out they feel inadequate and like a failure. Many people, if they would be completely honest, because of how they see themselves, they feel empty and incomplete, because their identity is wrapped up in the wrong things. They have become human “doings” and not human beings.

Biblically speaking, our true identity can only be found in Christ. As we struggle to find wholeness, purpose, value, significance, and worth we are looking in all the wrong places. Ephesians 2:10 says “we are the workmanship of God in Christ Jesus”. Who better to determine your identity than the One who created you? From the moment we are born, we are being defined everyday by the labels others place on us. Yet, God alone knows who He created us to be. Our true identity is not based on our list of successes, failures, attributes, circumstances, but rather it is based upon our Creator. A Chevy is a Chevy because of its creator. The nearly exact same truck created in the same factory on the same assembly line by GMC is not called a Chevy because Chevrolet did not create it.

So, who are you? Not what do you do, but “who” are you? Not what have you done. Not where have you been. Not what have you accomplished. Not what has happened to you, but rather ”who” are you, the real you. How close are you to who God has created you to be? Let God remove the labels, baggage, and the stereotypes and make you the one of a kind original He intended you to be all along. Seek first God and seek to find your identity in Him. Embrace your Creator’s intentions when He intentionally created you.

Our communities are full of people looking for purpose, significance, and wholeness. How about you? There are many things that present themselves as substitutes, but lasting and meaningful purpose, significance, and wholeness can only be found in Christ. There is no substitute for Christ and finding your identity in Him.

One reply on “The Search for Personal Identity: Are You a Who or a What?”

I really love the articles you send but never write a comment. Today’s the day. Thank you Tim. These are a nice beginning to my day and food for thought. 🤔

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