Who are you?
My answers to this question used to change. This is not a question that should have a shifting answer.
Let me tell you about one of my old answers to this question.
I used to be a cowboy. Yes, a real cowboy. I loved it, the longs days full of hard physical labor. Some of my best memories were made in the days that I was cowboying.
I remember thinking, “I’ll always be doing this.” Being a cowboy was my dream and I was living it. I was a staple at the ranch I was working at. Other people came and went, but I stuck around for over 5 years. I was always at the ranch working away. Sometimes it was doing trail rides or training with horses, other days it was fixing fences or moving hay. I took a lot of pride in knowing that I knew the ins and outs of our ranch just about as well as anybody around. It was my pride and joy to be the person that everyone knew they could count on. I loved being the go to guy.
What are you really good at?
Maybe you’re the best at basketball in your high school, the star player. You can sink a shot from just about anywhere on the court. If there’s a buzzer beater to be shot, you know darn well the game plan will be to get the ball in your hands because you’re the go to guy.
Perhaps you’re the mom that’s been doing the whole “mom thing” the longest. You can smell a lie a mile away. Dinner is always home cooked and delicious. You better bet your neighborhood famous apple pie that all the kids around wish you were their mom. Your house is the #1 spot for any kind of social gathering, after all you’re the best. You’re the go to mom.
You could be the “closer” when a sale needs finalizing, your boss sends you. Your closing so many sales for your company you doubt your boss will be your boss much longer. The way things are headed you will be the new boss pretty darn soon. Everyone in the office knows that you’re the guy with a plan, a plan that always seems to work. After all, you are the go to guy.
What’s the hardest question you’ve ever been asked?
I remember mine. Back when I was still being a cowboy a buddy asked me, “Evan, what would you do if you couldn’t ride anymore?”
I didn’t have an answer.
Because I didn’t know.
I couldn’t imagine a life where I couldn’t ride, what would I do?
Let’s see if I can ask a question that can make you a little uncomfortable.
“What would you do if you’re knee went out and you couldn’t play basketball anymore?”
“What will you do when your kids are all grown up?”
“What will you do when a new guy starts outselling you?”
Now I can’t take the time to ask a targeted question for everything you may love to do. So here is where you come in, ask yourself,
What am I best at?
Once you identify what it is, ask yourself,
What would I do if this thing went away?
This is a very difficult question to think about, it sure makes me uncomfortable.
I firmly believe that the difficulty of this subject is so powerful because of the significance of your answer. For most of us the answer to the first question, “what am I best at?” Not only reveals our grandest passion, but it also reveals our very identity.
The answer to this question reveals who we consider ourselves to be.
Who is it that you consider yourself to be?
There is only one answer to this question that will stand the test of time.
Everything that we can place our confidence, our trust, and our faith in, on this earth will go away. All things have an ending. The end is inevitable after all. This applies across the board.
It doesn’t matter if you place your identity in being the best pastor or being the best drug dealer, both are wrong. Both are unhealthy places to put your identity.
When we place our identity in a thing that we do, we are letting “our thing” become our god. All false gods are wrong. It makes no difference if our false god is being a powerful communicator for Christianity or being the most feared pimp in the game.
Sound crazy? That idea isn’t mine, its God’s.
“All our righteous acts are like filthy rags”
The Hebrew used here is the same word used when talking about used menstruation “garments.” This is strong, vivid, and graphic language.
This passage is saying, “All your good works? They are worth as much as a used tampon.”
Now move beyond the disgusting nature of this statement. Let the meaning soak past your skin, and into the core of who you are. Let this statement rock your identity.
When we build our identities in the things that we do, good or bad, we are setting ourselves up for certain failure and disappointment.
If we place our identity in what we do, our value as a human is tied directly to how we perform in that activity. If we succeed, then we are a success. If we fail, then we are a failure. Do not determine your value as a person on how you perform. Determine your value as a loved child of God.
When we make what we do, who we are; we are robbing God of who He is.
As people on this earth there is only one place to put your identity, and it’s not in what you do or who you love. It’s in God.
This truth does not mean that the things we do, or the people we love are irrelevant. It does not mean that the things we are passionate about don’t matter. It does not mean that ministry and good works are pointless. It means that we cannot make those things who we are.
God wants us to do good works, He wants us to do well in our jobs, in our relationships, in our lives. God cares about the things you do. God cares about the people you love. God cares about who you are.
The purpose of placing your identity in God is not only eternal security, but security on this earth.
The time will come when the things we do can’t be done anymore. I think of Kobe Bryant, the man has been a basketball machine his whole life. If you haven’t taken the time to read his retirement letter I encourage you too. It is one of the more beautifully written letters I have ever read. Kobe has balled his whole life, but that’s coming to an end. His time playing basketball is just about over. I hope that he is ready for that. There is a reason we see so many great athletes return from retirement and try and play the sport they love again. Michael Jordan and Brett Favre are recent examples of this behavior. This happens for a simple reason, those players are their sport. Kobe has been basketball his whole life, now that it’s over who will he be?
Few of us are professional athletes, but the idea is transferable to any career field. From basketball to motherhood, from football to accounting. A time comes when we must walk away from the thing that has made us who we are.
Be ready for that time.
God gave us each skills and abilities that are different and meaningful. God wants us to use those abilities to bring glory to Him, not to bring glory to ourselves.
Where you place your identity is where you place your soul.
There is only one place to keep your soul.
In the warm embrace of our Savior.
I hope this made you uncomfortable. I hope that when asked the most important question you can ever be asked, you can give the only good answer.
Who are you?
A child of God.