Lots of students are completing their first years of college and moving back home at the end of May. Many of those students are faced with having to find gainful employment for the summer. The word on the street is though, that most places aren’t hiring and work is impossible to come by.
One of the common responses of students, and adults who struggle to find work today, is to take rejection personally.
“Not finding work says something about me as a person”, they say.
“I must be a loser. I can’t land a job. This rejection must mean that I’m not a good person.
See I told you I can’t do anything with my life. I’m just not going to amount to anything.”
Who you are is not what you do.
No matter how many times I think about the value of who I am based on my accomplishment or title, I hear my mom’s voice in the background reminding me since 12 years old, “you are a human being son, not a human doing.” What you do is important, but it’s not the most important thing in life. Work does not define you. When you can’t find work, it does not mean you can’t find your purpose in life, or your value or purpose is diminished.
What you do is not who you are.
We are trained from infancy in the U.S. that our accomplishments and successes give us value. One of the intention ways of raising our children when they were small, was to intentionally avoid making their achievements ‘about’ them as children. We intentionally worked at not saying, “good boy” or “good girl” as a reward for them as they would accomplish task. The reason for this probably comes from my parents again, who said worth is not achieved, you cannot credit personal value in a person for the things they do because when they fail, and we all fail, it will mean that their value is diminished. This is simply not true in relationship to Christ Jesus.
Jesus Christ transforms everything.
It’s so easy to think that who we are is based on what we do… except the Bible doesn’t agree. I read through the gospels and find how easily Jesus declares how impressed he is with the faith expressions of so many people. He invites people into relationship with God in so many different ways, by agreeing with them in their faith expressions. Jesus looks at the heart of his beloved creation and declares their incredible amount of faith.
Then we move to Epistles and letters where the Apostles like Paul declare that we are “in Christ” more than Christ is “in our heart”. It’s a concept that has been intriguing to me for years. The book of Ephesians is a classic example of our identity found in the person of Christ, not in some work that we find ourself doing.
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2). This invitation does not give us value by what we do, rather it declares that our identity is in Christ as dearly loved children of God… our doing is based on our being in Christ. Be imitators of God… as Christ gave himself up for the church, give yourself away. Don’t find yourself giving yourself away as an earning of God’s love, or accomplishing your value system based on your behavior.
Do you feel needed?
What is your identity and value based in?
Finding meaningful employment?
Finding any kind of part time job to get a little cash to make it through the summer?
If you don’t find work, what does that do to your ‘personhood’? Don’t find yourself giving into the lie of the enemy who declares that you are what you do… no!!!
You are one for whom Jesus Christ died and sacrificed his life that you might be declared free from the bondage of sin thinking that your identity is formed by what you do. It is not. You are who you are because of the sacrifice of Jesus and this transforms everything and everyone.
You are needed, not for what you can do, but for who you are. Jesus has redeemed you. Live in the freedom of new identity and let this transform your thinking that you are not what you do.
“Jesus, thank you for transforming my identity in the work you’ve done, so that who I am bring glory to God. Then, let the work I do, be something that imitates God in this world. Amen”