Thursday, October 15, 2009

A New Question (part 1)

Who am I? Have you ever really stopped to think about the answer to this question. I was stopped dead in my tracks this week when confronted with these three simple words: "Who are you?" It's easy to answer this with things like, "I'm a property manager for the public housing authority in Grand Rapids," or "I'm a husband and a father," or "I'm a worship leader." But these are not so much who we are as they are what we are or what we do.

I think for the past several years I've found my identity (or tried to establish my identity) in what I do. Out of college I was a business consultant, then I moved to property management, then I was a youth pastor and a worship leader, then back to property management. But these really don't answer who I am. I've been married for a little more than seven years to Heidi, and we have a beautiful daughter named Ella...but this doesn't really answer who I am. I've led worship for years in big and small venues, but this still doesn't really answer who I am. I've played music in bars and clubs and coffee shops, but this still doesn't provide the answers I'm looking for. These all point towards gifts and talents and personality traits. But, at the end of the day they don't say a thing about who I really am.

This question came up at a Bible study I'm a part of...and it really got me thinking. I've tried for too long to characterize who I am by what I do. I think this might be part of the reason that I find myself so easily discontent. I try to force who I am into whatever I'm doing (job, ministry, friendships), and it doesn't fit. My job and ministry and friendships...even my family...cannot contain who I am. Which looking back over the past few years is a good thing...if my job was who I am, I would have been five different people in the last five years. That's right, five different jobs...horrible, I know. But as I look at each of those jobs, I see how I tried to squeeze who I am into them instead of letting them fit into who I am (current position excluded because I've adjusted my outlook on some things). At Woodhaven I tried to force passion into tradition. At Origins I tried to force high expectations into the status quo. At Park Place I tried to force leadership into a community that didn't want to be led. At Stone Falls I tried to force myself to be someone I was not in order to make the sale. Interestingly enough, these are all very good traits that I think I have...passion, high expectations, leadership, and even the ability to be all things to all people. I don't think these traits alone are who I am, but they certainly feed into it. And I've spent my whole life, really, trying to fit these into whatever I do.

I'm not going to go into who I am right now because I would like you, my faithful few readers, to ask that same question of yourself: "Who am I?" When you strip everything away, who are you?

2 comments:

Kristine McGuire said...

This is a really good post and an excellent question. One I hadn't really thought of beyond what you mentioned...defining myself by what I do. Thank you for the interesting food for thought.

Ollie said...

So, this is quite timely...
This weekend, I've been asked to speak to a group of young ladies about the issue of identity and their Daddy's love...
I was JUST NOW sitting here asking God to let me know what to say and all...
Thank you for this...I'll be using some of your thoughts, if not just straight out reading your blog!
I have a great deal of respect for you, Jake and the reasons for that respect become clearer quite often...