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.

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God’s Way of Doing Things is ALWAYS Best

Life is fully of journeys. We are always moving from point A to point B to point C in our health, our relationships, our employment, our education, etc. Out of all the journeys you are traveling, your spiritual development journey is by far your most important journey. One of the bible verses I use to determine that is from the words of Jesus found in Matt 6:33, “Seek first God, His Kingdom, and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”.

The point Jesus is making is that our first priority is to seek God, and His way of doing things. If we will do that, we can trust Him with the other details. Matt 6:33 is surrounded by verses on not worrying. We worry about so many things. Worry is always the absence of trust. Worry steals our peace. Seeking other things creates reason to worry. Seeking God first removes the reasons to worry.

Therefore, your spiritual development journey is the most development journey of your life. As you seek first God, and His way of doing things, you will be better at all the other things life throws at you, and all the other areas or developmental journeys of your life. As you experience the transformation that comes from doing things God’s way, you will also be a better spouse, parent, employee/employer, etc. God’s way is doing things is always better.

Hebrews 12:1 uses the imagery of a marathon when it describes our lives, “Let us throw off everything that hinders us, and the sin that so easily entangles us. Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”. The phrase “marked out for us” indicates intentionality. God has marked the race out before us. Your journey is not an accident. Now, we can make choices that forfeit things or derail things or lead us on detours of our lives, but God has a plan.

Paul wrote “You are the workmanship of God, created in Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10). Think about that. God has a list of things He wants to accomplish in and through you that He “prepared in advance”. In advance! Again, Eph 2:10 indicates intentionality, planning, and purpose.

One more biblical passage to demonstrate my point in this article, “…He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands…” (Acts 17:26-27). So let me sum this article up; God made you, created a list of things he wanted to do in and through you, determined the era you were to live in, and the locations you would live at. In return, He ask you to seek Him first, and do things His way, so he can provide and protect on your behalf. Your spiritual development journey is the most important journey of your life. Don’t waste another day.


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