I am a father, a husband, a brother, a son, a cousin, a director, an artist….
How would you define yourself? We often get asked, as part of an introduction, “So, what do you do?” Our society often defines us by what role we play in it. While this method is common, it can also introduce ideas of grandeur. We deem some roles as more valuable than others. We create a hierarchy of value-based more on what we are able to accomplish, than who we are as people. We are defined by what we do and less on who we are.
This concept presents itself in the context of Work-Life Balance because if we define ourselves solely by what we do, as we are encouraged to do daily, then there will always be a skewing towards work being the most important.
So what do we base our value on, what determines our identity?
In her book, “Quiet” author Susan Cain describes the shift in society that happened in the ’30s and ’40s when the focus moved from one on character to a focus on personality. Individuals focused on how to sell themselves. Popular books such as How To Win Friends and Influence People have dominated the bestseller list. Unfortunately, many of these books focus on developing or selling what you can do for people, instead of who you are. The focus is on the strong and the persuasive, with the quiet and subtle often being overlooked.
Currently, it seems as if our culture oscillates between viewpoints. Whereas extroversion was prized, now you see many articles on introversion. Many people are declaring themselves introverts and thus selling why it is so good to be an introvert. (Being an introvert myself, I find this ironic because usually, I am trying to not stand out.) Our culture seems to only think in extremes, it tends to make things easier to value or categorize. However, in dealing with extremes and drawing such distinguishing lines on value, are we leaving out vast pockets of people?
In establishing a doer-based society are we invalidating the lives of those who are not able? Is this the maxim that we wish to live by? You can do, therefore you are valuable.
To live in such a society is to dwell in a land void of grace. As followers of Christ, we must not fall prey and let society’s maxim become our plum line of existence.
So where does our identity come from?
Many books have been written on the subject of our identity in Christ. God created us with purpose. He rescued us and has set us apart. He has given us hope. Many of us may have heard these things before, but we tend to forget. I believe this is why in Hebrews 3:13 the writer urges us to exhort one another daily. If these truths are not remembered or reinforced, we will drift. Attached to this article you will find a simple handout with the truths of who we are in Christ. These are for you to take and reflect on throughout your day, they are also for you to know how to encourage others who may be struggling and need exhortation as mentioned in Hebrews 3:13.
While it is good for us to know these truths, for me, one of the hardest things is knowing how to practically live them out in my daily life. How do we live out these truths in a culture that is trying to reshape and change our identity?
In Scripture, God gives us examples of those that have gone before us. In the life of Daniel, we see the importance of drawing boundaries and where to place them. In the life of Esther and Daniel, we see the importance of community. The need to have people to remind you of what is true and to stand with you. At times our faith will lead us to go counter to culture as we read about in the lives of Nehemiah, Daniel, and Esther. God uses our lives to impact the lives of others and can use us just as He did Esther, Daniel, Joseph, and Nehemiah to serve others and to make Himself known.
In the coming weeks, we will talk more about how to practically live out our identity in Christ. We will discuss how our lives are in Christ and how He is calling us to follow after Him in both our work and our home.
For further study and meditation, download the Who we are in Christ worksheet.