Look around the world today and you will see a lot of people who are searching. Searching for a purpose, and an identity, but unsure how or where to find it. We all go through this process, and it often begins in the teen years, but instead of the search ending and being able to begin adult life with purpose and meaning, it’s not at all common to find young adults well into their twenties (and sometimes beyond) still on this search for identity, purpose, and meaning in their life. And sadly, Christians are no exception.
The good news is, that as a Christian, you aren’t left without a resource in this process.
Confidence in who you are, and living with true purpose and meaning, is not something that just happens. It’s the result of having the proper foundation and understanding some key things. I believe that foundation is: 1) Knowing who God is. 2) Having the proper perspective of where you stand in relation to Him. 3) Engaging in a personal relationship with Him. Have you ever known someone who seems fully confident in who they are, what their purpose in life is, and are fulfilled in what they are doing? Well I guarantee that if those things are true, they have the above mentioned foundation.
Because the topic of who God is is waaaaaaaaaaaaay too vast and deep a subject to cover in a blog post (or book for that matter) I’m going to assume that everyone reading this has a basic understanding of Who God is, and jump right into the other two parts of the foundation.
Accept Your Identity In Creation
We are made in the image of God. That in itself is something that no other living being on earth can lay claim to. Each person alive, whether they acknowledge it or not, was purposefully created and designed by God. He is the giver of life, and makes no accidents. It’s quoted all the time, but this passage from Psalms is a wonderful description of just how intentional our creation is:
For you formed me my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. – Psalms 139: 13-16
In that passage David is not only acknowledging God’s hand at work in designing him, but also God’s hand in giving him a purpose before he was ever born.
Accept that you were created and designed by God in His image, intentionally, uniquely, and filled with potential.
Accept Your Identity In Christ
You were created in God’s image, but because of the fall were born separated from Him. When you receive God’s gift of salvation, you are no longer separated from Him, and the Bible says you become a son or daughter of God, and His heir.
You are also an emissary for God in this world, and called to full time service for Him. The idea that only pastors, or people who move to foreign countries are in His service, is simply untrue. Each one of us are called to be full time missionaries, wherever God has us geographically and no matter what field of work we go into/are in. We should be living in such a way, that we are reflecting the character and nature of God, sharing the light of the gospel in our communities, and showing people His love.
Accept that you are loved, you are redeemed, you are made whole in Christ, and you are called to serve Him, and have a purpose in sharing God’s love with other’s around you.
That’s the foundation. Now, I’m going to talk about some key things, that can drastically effect your identity and living with purpose.
Recognize The Lies You Have Believed About Yourself
Sometimes, the greatest thing holding us back not just in our search for identify and purpose, but from accomplishing things in life, are lies we believe about ourselves. There is a reason why Satan employs the use of lies; they are very effective in preventing great things from taking place. Here is a list of a few of the most common that tend to hold people back:
I am worthless; I am unworthy to be loved; I am an accident; I can’t do anything right or of value; I have no purpose; I’m not good enough…; I’m not attractive enough… ; I can’t finish anything; I’m a failure.
Maybe something from that list immediately jumps out to you, as something you have believed about yourself and can even identify ways in which it has held you back. Or maybe you’ve never thought about the possibility that you could be believing lies about yourself. In that case, I’d encourage you to spend some time in prayer and ask God to bring to light (if there are any) lies that you may not be consciously aware of.
In the same way that just trying to stop a bad habit doesn’t usually work unless you are replacing it with a positive one; its important that after you’ve recognized the lies, to then seek God’s help in replacing them with the truth.
Look At How You Were Made
Above I talked about how you were created uniquely; well, part of that uniqueness lies in your personality strengths (and weaknesses), the natural abilities you have, and the things God has given you a passion for. Each of those area’s are part of your identity, were designed intentionally and put in you to equip you for your life, and a purpose. Here’s the thing though, you won’t discover what your God given strengths, abilities, and passions are (not to mention develop them!) by sitting around waiting for God to show you your purpose. You need to try things, learn things, and do. You need to have the opportunity to both fail and succeed, and that only comes about through action. Explore opportunities and interests you have. God gave you the “tools” (your personality, natural abilities/talents, and passions) to do something with your life, it’s up to you to develop them.
Most of us have some idea of what our specific “tools” are. But, if you are at a place of not having any idea what yours are, then ask someone who knows you well (family, friends, or mentors) and find out what they see in you in those areas.
Dispelling the Myth That Who You Are Is Something That Has To Be Found
This is not the common thought, but what if, instead of searching for who you are, you simply decided who you are going to be?
This is where everything in this post kind of comes together.
You know that you have been designed and created by God, intentionally and uniquely, and after salvation you are brought into a place of relationship with God, as his son or daughter and are loved deeply by Him. You have a mission for Him in this world as His emissary regardless of location, or career. You have been given specific strengths and weakness, abilities, and interests which are the “tools” God gave you to do something in life.
But, even after all of that, God still gives you free will. You have the choice in how you will apply all of it in your life. Past circumstances, and backgrounds are not limitations (or valid excuses) where God is concerned. Don’t wait around for your purpose to fall from the sky on a sign. Assume responsibility, decide who you are going to be, and proactively pursue that. Because if you don’t, by default, circumstances and other people will decide for you.
Of course everything should be done with prayer, but if God wants to redirect you, He can and will. You need to be moving in some direction though for Him to do that.
What are your thoughts on this subject?
Have you ever thought about who you are, being something you decide, instead of find?