I strongly dislike soap operas. I remember watching Days Of Our Lives for an entire summer. I couldn’t have been older than 10 or 11. The corny opening song reverberates through my brain like a never-ending tone deaf girl trying to harmonize with a tone-deaf dude.
It’s that annoying.
“Like sands through the hourglass, THESE are the days of our lives.” To be honest, Days Of Our Lives (or simply “Days” if you’re a true fan) was strangely entertaining. I’m not sure why, but it was. If you asked me what happened after an episode, I wouldn’t know. The truth is, nothing happened.
This is exactly why soap operas continue for decades. Something happens, but nothing meaningful ever happens. There is drama of epic proportions. People betray one another, plot and scheme, fight, and tear down, but nothing ever happens. The shows have no theme. The characters are superficial and miserable.
Soap operas aren’t going anywhere. Just one entertaining episode after another.
Unfortunately, many of us settle for a soap opera life. Every day we wake up and begin our hectic lives. We don’t stop all day. Our pace is full-throttle. Our minds never rest, and our hearts are never content.
But, if you asked us what we did yesterday, most of us wouldn’t know. Much like a soap opera, something happens every day. But nothing meaningful ever happens.
When our lives become a recurring episode, with no theme or direction, disillusionment, discontent, stress, burnout, and depression consume us. Without a clear understanding of our identity, purpose, and assignment, emptiness plagues our souls. We can’t function with empty souls. So, we fill the void with anything we can find. Work. Sex. Drugs. Alcohol. Shopping sprees. Large homes and trinkets.
Understand this. You were created for meaning and purpose. When you discover it, your life changes forever. Your heart is set on fire with passion, desire, hope, and love. No pursuit in life is more valuable than the pursuit of your identity and purpose. None.
So, what is your identity? How do you discover your life’s purpose? I want to attack three questions men and women have asked for centuries: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going?
These questions are weighty. They bridge the gap between a soap opera existence and a meaningful life. You were created for greatness. You were created to impact the world. But, you must understand the relationship between your identity, purpose, and assignment to embrace this life.
Who Am I? (IDENTITY)
You can teach what you know, but you will reproduce who you are.Nicky Gumbel
“Who am I?” is the single most important question you will ever ask. Your identity is the foundation for your actions. If you don’t understand who you are, you won’t understand where you are going. And, although many people don’t understand this connection, a meaningful life is IMPOSSIBLE unless you understand your identity.
In other words, “Why am I here?” and “Where am I going?” are useless questions if you can’t answer “Who am I?”
So, who are you? What is your identity?
For the answer, let’s consider Jesus. Think about it. Jesus never struggled with anxiety. He never saw a counselor for depression. He never stressed out. Calm. Relaxed. Self-controlled. All words that described Jesus.
How did Jesus relax with the weight of humanity on his shoulders (literally)?
Jesus knew who he was. He knew where he came from and where he was going.
Every man or woman in the history of the world is created in God’s image. You are created in the image of God. You are created to love. You are created to learn. You are created to….create. Passion. Excellence. Grace. Truth. Beauty. All of these things form your identity.
Because your identity is the foundation for your purpose and assignment, Satan wants to destroy it. Satan knows if he clouds your identity, you won’t live a meaningful life.
Please understand this.
NOTHING is more dangerous to Satan than a man or a woman completely convinced of his or her identity. Nothing.
What if you and I believed our identity? I mean, really believed it? We would be able to live the same miraculous life as Jesus. So, I want to highlight a few core truths about your identity.
Your identity ALWAYS comes from within you. It is an inside-out job.
Your identity NEVER changes. You don’t choose your identity. You only choose whether you will live from it.
“Who am I?” is the foundation for “Why am I here?” and “Where am I going?”
You won’t fully grasp your identity until you embrace a deep, intimate relationship with God.
You will NEVER find your identity outside of you. It’s not possible. Identity comes from within. Because you were created in the image of God, your identity is dependent upon your relationship with God. If you don’t spend time alone with God, your impact on the world will be minimized and you will never experience peace that surpasses understanding.
When you spend time alone with God, he renews your heart. He restores your mind. Your focus isn’t on what you have done for God. Your worth and value isn’t measured by what others say. You aren’t short or tall. You aren’t fat or skinny. You aren’t a success or a failure. You aren’t smart or dumb. When you spend time with God, he fills you with his love, grace, and mercy. You are reminded that you are simply a man or woman created in God’s image. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Please don’t move to the next question until you wrestle with this first question. If you aren’t living from your identity, nothing else matters. You cease to be human when you lose your identity. That’s weighty stuff.
“My name is _______. I am created in the image of God. I came from Him and I’m going back to Him.”
Why Am I Here? (PURPOSE)
Your purpose is where your deepest passions intersect your greatest strengths. While your identity isn’t a discovery process (you don’t get to choose your identity…you just get to choose whether you live from it), your purpose is.
You have a unique purpose.
On my 30th birthday, my wife asked those closest to me to write a congratulatory letter. In addition, she asked everyone to include a piece of advice for me moving forward. All the letters were amazing. But one, in particular, stood out. A mentor and close friend in Dallas, said something that changed my life. He challenged me to find one thing that made me unique. In his words, there was one thing that separates you from your peers. Writing. Painting. Speaking. Singing. Fishing. Encouraging. You are naturally good at something (maybe several things).
So, here are a few points about your purpose:
Your purpose is where your greatest strengths intersect your greatest passions.
Your purpose is NOT your assignment and it is NOT your identity.
Your purpose excites you, stirs your heart, and gives you energy.
Living out your purpose is the key to a meaningful life.
You were created for meaning. In the absence of living meaningfully, you will fill the void with meaningless activity.
Your purpose is larger than you. You won’t discover your purpose if you don’t take risks.
I want to build on the final point. Please catch this. We live in an age of purposelessness. And where purposelessness is present, addictions are rampant. Few things are more miserable than settling for average or mediocre.
The soul can’t take it.
There is a void created by purposelessness, and something must fill it. So, if your job sucks or if your life is void of quality relationships, you run home to alcohol, pornography, medication, or drugs.
This is, unfortunately, even true for Christians. God’s people SHOULD lead the way when it comes to living with purpose. But every Sunday, church buildings are filled with joyless Christians, bored with God and content with a mediocre existence.
What the what?
The problem is purpose. Don’t settle for mediocrity. You were created in God’s image. You were created for greatness. You were created to impact the world. Stop settling.
Stop buying clothes or getting drunk to numb pain for a few hours. Get drunk on wonder, curiosity, and excitement. Get high on passion and excellence. C’mon, Christians! You weren’t created for a paycheck. You weren’t created to “veg out” on the couch. You were created to change the world.
Where Am I Going? (ASSIGNMENT)
I talk with college and 20-somethings often. In my conversations, their most common fear is making the wrong career choice.
I know the feeling. I was there.
Understand this. You won’t stay in one place forever. Take the weight of the world off your shoulders.
A recent report found that the average person spends 4.4 years at his or her job. The typical American will have 11 jobs before retirement. The days of working in a steel factory for 50 years are over. Stop stressing about your first job out of college. You will have 10 more.
Whether you’re stressed over taking your first job or whether to move on from your current job, here are a few questions that might help you clarify your assignment.
Do you look forward to Monday morning?
Are your reasons for staying at your current job superficial (salary, benefits, stability)?
Are you being challenged?
Does your current job ignite your passions and give you a sense of purpose?
Would you secretly be relieved if your boss let you go?
Life is too short for you to stay at a job because “it pays the bills.” Actually, God pays the bills, and he created you to fulfill a huge purpose. Stop punching a time clock because you’re scared to step out in faith.
You should be fearful of standing in front of God and explaining why you chose to “pay the bills” and not live out your purpose.
Don’t remain fiercely loyal to an employer. Don’t remain fiercely loyal to a vocation. Remain fiercely loyal to a purpose, YOUR purpose. Don’t feel bad for leaving a job if it prevents you from living out your purpose. Your assignment is a means to live out your purpose. When your current assignment hinders your purpose, it’s time to go.
Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? are hugely important questions. This post is by no means a comprehensive answer. It is, however, a place to start.
God created you in his image. That’s huge. You aren’t mediocre. You have a huge purpose. One only you can fulfill. What would happen if you spent time answering these questions? I pray God revealed something to you.
What would you add? Leave a comment below.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!