Who am I? Identity was Dictionary.com’s 2015 Word of the Year. Millions are ordering DNA profiles on themselves. What’s my race? My nationality of origin?
Why do we care so much about identity?
Because we don’t know who we are and we want someone with credibility to tell us.
Beginning in early, early childhood, our parents started to ascribe our identity. “You’re going to be a good big brother.” “See how smart he is? “Watch how fast he can run!” Those who had great dads heard, “You are my son!”
Or maybe you heard words ascribing different identities. “You can’t do anything right!” (translation: incompetent) “You don’t measure up”(failure) “I think there’s something wrong with you!” (abnormal) “Good boys don’t do that kind of thing.” (Well I just did that ‘thing,’ so I must be bad!)
As we got older, our identity was ascribed by outsiders: teachers, schoolmates, coaches, friends. “You’re a good little athlete.” “You’ve been picked as Most Talented.” Then there was the other ones. “You’re a geek.” “He’s that homeschool kid.” “You don’t play football . . . you must be a mama’s boy.” “He’s that rich kid.” “He’s super smart but man, he is not fun to be around!”
Then college comes. “He’s a cool guy!” “You went Greek?” “He’s one of the popular ones!” “You’re not in a fraternity?” (translation: loser) “You’re not on scholarship?” (spoiled) “That’s your car?” (poor) “You live in a dorm?” (lame)
Marriage, kids, and career also ascribe versions of our identity. “He’s a CEO.” “He’s a great dad.” ”He’s the guy with the Lamborghini and the big house.” “He’s been married before.” “He’s the guy whose been laid off three times in three years.” “He’s been through rehab twice.” “He’s an old retired guy.”
For Jesus-followers, our identity was ascribed to us the day we accepted God’s invitation to be adopted into His family. From that day forward, you’ve been the son of the King of Kings! That’s your true identity, ascribed by Almighty God! (That’s someone with credibility right there!) You and I have a Heavenly Father who loves us so much that He forgave us, listens to our prayers, guides our hearts and never leaves us. If we choose to live in our ultimate, true identity as loved sons and daughters of the Living God, all the other identities ascribed to us by others don’t matter as much. You can call me a geek, a sissy, a klutz, a worthless old retired guy . . . nothing you can say trumps my identity as an adopted son of God who is my perfect Father and best friend.
Your identity is ascribed by others. It’s multiple choice and it’s up to you to decide who you really are. You can stick with one of the identities ascribed to you in childhood, sports, the workplace, after that big wreck, by your first wife or your angry neighbor. Or you can believe and live into the identity ascribed to you by your Heavenly Father. The quality and trajectory of your life depends on your choice.
Scripture: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
Mentor Tip: Identity and theology are the two most important aspects of a man’s faith life. How God sees me = Identity. How I see God = Theology. Work hard to show your guys the truth about themselves . . . that they’re adopted (cannot be unadopted) sons of the King of Kings!