“What do you do for a living?” This question is a common ice-breaker when we meet someone new. And what's the answer to the question? “I'm an accountant.” “I'm a stay-at-home mom.” “I'm a dentist.” “I'm a carpenter.”
Did you catch the subtle difference between the question and the answer? The question asks what a person does, and the answer states who a person is. Ok, I'm not on a rampage to end a colloquial answer to a common question. But I do think it's worth asking why we answer that question the way we do. Perhaps it's because our identity is so tied up in what we do that it becomes who we are.
If you're a child of God, your first identity is that you are a child of God. You do accounting work, but you are a child of God. You do carpentry work, but you are a child of God. You do pastoral work, but you are a child of God.
Why does a Christian who cares for her children at home go through an identity crisis when they leave? Perhaps it's because her identity is in the wrong place. Why does someone who works on cars (a.k.a, mechanic) become depressed when he loses his job? Perhaps it's because his identity is in the wrong place.
I have recently gone through a time when my vocation changed. I was a pastor. I plan to be a pastor again. But what about right now when I don't shepherd a congregation? What about a pastor who doesn't have a church? Can you still be a pastor if you're not actually shepherding anyone? We could probably overly-nuance the answer to this question, but suffice it to say, I'm convinced that my primary identity should be being a child of God and follower of Jesus. This anchoring truth helps in the midst of an identity crisis. I'm a child of God who does pastoral work … or landscaping work … or office work … or whatever. God calls His children to fulfill different vocations, but He still calls them His children. Their identity never changes.
So … Where's your identity?