Knowing Your Identity and Walking In Your Purpose
I’m going to make a pretty bold statement, and you tell me whether or not you agree. Ready for it? Our world is in an identity crisis. Agree or Disagree? Bonus points if you share you answer in the comments!
Even in the church, even as followers of Jesus, we struggle to know our identity outside of what we do or what we contribute. Can you relate?
My Identity Struggle
I remember the first time I experienced this struggle. I had been working in the human services field and over a period of 6 years had gone from being a volunteer staff member to the highest leadership position possible in our department (without stepping into executive team territory (although if I’m being honest, that was my goal). I was on cloud 9. I loved most everything about my job (minus the politics). I loved advocating for my staff and watching the families I worked with make progress in their lives. It felt like I was doing something meaningful; like I was making a difference.
My identity struggle began shortly after that while preparing for maternity leave and the birth of my second son. My boss asked me who I wanted to cover my my job while I was out and (embarrassing confession) I low key panicked. “I don’t want anyone to take my place,” I thought to myself. “What happens if they do a good job? I’ll have nothing left to come back to.”
It got even worse when I was called into our Executive Directors office after returning from maternity leave only to hear that our company had hit some major financial road blocks and that they couldn’t afford to pay me anymore. All of this sudden I really did have nothing to come back to. It was devastating. No fancy job, no fancy job title. Nothing satisfying to say when people asked questions like, ‘so what kind of work do you do? ” or ‘what do you do for a living.” At least that’s how I felt at the time. It wasn’t until later that I realized that emptiness I was experiencing, that feeling of insignificance that had crept into my life, was only there because I was letting a secular world define me and give me purpose; instead of embracing the identity God had given me and His purpose for my life.
How the Secular World Misses “The Identity Mark”
One of the first and most popular questions people are asked (as early as kindergarten) when they begin a new school year is, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” And although our answers may change over the years, I think it’s fair to say a big part of our lives leading into adulthood is spent pursuing these aspirations. We learn at a very young age to identify ourselves by what we like, what we do, and what we have (or sometimes even what we don’t have).
Who are you? You’re a teacher, musician, writer, an architect, etc.
You’re rich. You’re poor.
You’re educated; uneducated. You’re an alumni at a world famous college. A graduate from a local college.
You’re an activist, influencer, mentor.
A wife. A mom. A single mom.
Those things may all be factual. You may see them as good, bad, or neutral depending on your world view. They may accurately describe pieces of your life. But they are NOT your identity.
Redefining What Defines Us
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
Jesus was a carpenter. That occupation described a small portion of His life, but His identity and purpose came from outside of Himself. Even before He stepped into the role of teacher, disciple maker, and Lord; He was given an identity that superseded every occupation He would have and financial or material contribution He would make.
The same is true of you and I. It is not our occupation(s) that given us our identity; but rather the God we serve. So let’s look to the Bible to see what God has to say about our identity.
Who are we according to the Word of God? We are the workmanship of God (see Ephesians 2:10).
People’s created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
Citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20)
Joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)
Children of God (John 8:36)
Disciples and disciple makers (John 8:31 – 32)
And honestly, this is just the beginning of what it looks like to see yourself through the lens of your God-given identity.
Letting Your Identity Shape Your Purpose
Do you know what I love about our God-given identity? You can wear this crown and still carry out every other task, passion, or assignment God has given you. There is no taking this off. From the moment we say, “I do” to Jesus, these truths are forever ours.
Your work, your passions, the various roles you fill on a day to day basis; those are God appointed opportunities for you to walk in your God-ordained purpose. Those are opportunities for you to put Ephesians 2:10 to work and accomplish the good works He’s called you to. Those positions and circumstances position you to carry out The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) in a real, personal, and tangible way.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
– Matthew 28:19-20
Our purpose is to know God and make Him known. We were created to love Him and those He loves. And we have each been positioned and equipped to carry out this calling in unique ways. No matter where you are positioned, the ability to walk in our God-give purpose starts with understanding and walking in our God-given identity.
Learning to Walk In Our Identity & Purpose
Understanding who you are in Christ will radically change the way you live you life; the way you view yourself, others, and even God.
We want to help you get started by offering our free ebook, Living With Purpose. Through it you’ll receive practical encouragement that will help you live purposefully for Christ through the various seasons of your life. Download yours here.