You’re at a party. You don’t know many people, so you strike up a conversation with someone over the punch bowl. You ask, “So what do you do?” The conversation then rolls to talk of occupation, work, study…whatever it is you “do.”
It’s a common ice-breaker question with an unintentional and underlying meaning. Basically, the person asking the question is seeking to identify you with something, and in our culture we are identified by what we do. Who we are is what we do. It’s as simple as that.
Identity and Success
This is why so many in our culture are highly driven for success. If our identity is wrapped up in what we do, then we need to do a heck of a lot and do it better than everyone else. Why would anyone settle for the bottom of the ladder when they can climb to the top? Why would anyone drop their career to stay at home with their children? Why would someone pass up overtime to spend time with their family? It’s not wrong to climb to the top of the ladder, keep a career with children, or work overtime. But when you are completely absorbed in it and consistently put it above everything else, your work has become who you are.
The reason our culture absorbs themselves in their careers, and is always running towards success, is because they have nothing else. Each success they earn is all they have to live for in this world. Everyone is building their own mini-kingdom on this earth. They don’t know there is another kingdom to invest in or another world to live for. The emptiness they feel (or are unaware of, but is still present) drives them to do more. Each accomplishment in life (personal or work related) never satisfies, which is why they have to look for the next one to conquer.
A Christian Mindset
Yet, if you are a Christian your identity is not in what you do or have accomplished, but in what has already been done for you. This is why we can rest and not “do” so much, this is why we don’t need to feel inadequate if we don’t have a degree, or feel intimidated by people who have much earthly success. Our identity is secure; it’s not based on a fluctuating economy, a wavering income, or our tentative position in a company. Who we are is who Christ is. We are one with Christ who is one with the Father. Our greatest and most important accomplishment in life — salvation — has been achieved by Jesus Christ; He is our success story.
Jesus is the perfect model of true success; a life emptied of self and full of God and others. All of his accomplishments were acts of love and service. When we give our lives to Christ we not only believe and accept he died on the cross and rose from the dead for us, but we believe and accept all of his accomplishments in His life as our own. His success becomes our success. And in this success we cannot boast, because we didn’t earn it nor do we deserve it.
We have been set free from our culture’s version of identity in success. Now we can live our lives in true success: dying to self and living for God and others. This is building the Kingdom of God on earth, and the perfect fulfillment of His Kingdom will be found in heaven. Our culture lives for their own mini-kingdom that they build themselves. We are apart of something much bigger and more fulfilling; a Kingdom not made with human hands, but bought with flesh and blood. Christ’s broken flesh and spilled blood bought my success.