Our four-year-old grandson loved that Sunday night program the church had for boys his age. He learned lots of Bible verses there, he made friends, and he participated enthusiastically in the special activities they offered. And then they announced that the next week the kids should come dressed as what they wanted to be when they grew up. Our daughter asked our grandson what he wanted to be. He said, “I want to be a grandfather.” She shouldn’t have told me. I know, that kind of made me melted grandfather all over our carpet. I expect his other grandfather probably felt the same way. They borrowed some of my clothes and they went to work making a grandson into a grandfather. He said, “I even smell like Grandpa!” I’m not sure what that meant. But it did feel good that a grandfather is what he wants to be.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Who You Are and What You Do.”
It could be that that four-year-old has actually figured out something about who we really are that has eluded some of us older folks. When he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he didn’t answer with something he wants to do. That distinction is really easy to miss in a world that seems to be all about winning and achieving and doing. Years ago, people even got their name from what they did: baker, fisher, tanner, weaver. But God never meant for you to anchor your identity to the work you do, the position you hold, the milestones you accomplish.
Those sources of identity all have one thing in common: they’re all “losable.” Just ask anyone who’s been downsized, or disabled, or demoted, or dumped. Now a daddy, or a granddaddy, that’s something you are and no one can take that away from you. Generous, compassionate, honest, humble, and godly, those are things you are; things no one can take from you.
You have to go all the way back to the beginning to get a clear picture of what we’re supposed to get our worth from and our identity, and it is not from our work. Our word for today from the Word of God comes from the first book in the Bible, Genesis, and takes us back to the creation of the first human being. Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in His own image … male and female He created them.” It is that image of God that ultimately defines who you are and that’s something no one can take from you.
Then, in Genesis 2:18, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” First, the vertical relationship with God, then horizontal relationships with others. It wasn’t until after man sinned in Genesis 3 that God said, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life … by the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground.” (Genesis 3:17-19) So, for a person to be defined by what they do is part of the curse of the fall.
But it’s clear that your Creator meant for you to be defined by your relationships, not your occupation. You’re a child of Almighty God. You’re a son or daughter, a husband or wife, and in case my grandson is listening, a grandparent, a friend, an aunt or uncle. After all my dad did in his life, only two words sum up his life on his tombstone “Husband – father.”
When you are what you do and you lose your job, or your capabilities, your sport, your career, then in fact, you’ve lost you. But, in fact, you’ve not even lost a tiny fraction of who you are. No one can take that from you unless you forget who you really are. And when you realize who you really are, then you know what really matters.
You know how to set your priorities, and you’re anchored to a meaning in life that you cannot lose. Because it isn’t about what you do, it’s about who you are.