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How Your Job Title Could Ruin Your Life

One of the most difficult things I’ve wrestled with during my life is the reality that I am not summarized by a career or a job title. The talents and skills that I possess are not the only traits of my extremely complicated life, nor should they be. Nor should yours be, either.

But isn’t it so easy to get caught up in such a facade?

The truth is we are not our jobs, our hobbies, our favorite music, our favorite sports teams, or even our favorite flavor of religious behavior; these are mere expressions of who we are. We are eternal beings in a finite world. As Solomon contemplates in Ecclesiastes:

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11

Most of our lives we are striving for meaning, for purpose, for some semblance of our soul’s longing for satisfaction. We attain degrees, we study at studios, we work our lives away climbing a ladder of success that leads us to temporal satisfaction. And all the while we are left wondering if we are ever going to reach the pinnacle of achievement that consistently escapes our grasp.

Could it be that our hearts sense eternity and can’t find it in what is temporary?

The majority of my post-college life I’ve been calling myself an actor, but in reality I’ve been an actor/extra/college recruiter/retail manager/production assistant/golf course starter/sales associate/barista/technical recruiter. And that’s just a summary of the jobs I’ve had since 2005. Just an actor? Really?

Let’s face it: everything must end eventually, even a career, a dream, or an ambition. We often see this in the professional sports world where a superstar’s talent begins fading in the twilight of their careers. There are often two different responses I’ve seen: (1) Players have their identity rooted in something greater than their sports career and they find a way to gracefully exit that stage and enter the next with anticipation. (2) Players seem to hang on for dear life, scared to death of what awaits in the next chapter of their lives. It’s as if they are losing their identity when they retire (see: Brett Favre, Michael Jordan).

So what’s the point of doing anything, right? If our identity is comprised of more than our activity, how do we completely realize it?

First off, let me clarify: I’m not saying that your career is a wasted investment, that you should give up on a dream, or that you can’t enjoy the many things in life that we often mistake for our identities. Rather, I’m suggesting something better: that our identity never belonged with those things to begin with.

As a follower of Jesus, I wholeheartedly believe that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have been given an invitation to the grace of God that can redeems us, that can bring us back to our Father, and that can awaken us to the true life we were intended to live. This isn’t religion I’m talking about; this is returning to our true humanity as we were intended.

Our work, our careers, our hobbies, our passions, and our relationships all find their meaning when we are connected to God as we were intended. You are not merely your job description, a brand, or a hobby; you are a work of art created by God.

Questions: 

  1. What do you often find yourself claiming as your true identity?
  2. Are you finding your ultimate purpose in something that has an expiration date?
  3. Do you have doubts or fears about completely finding your identity in God?

– AV

3 Comments

  1. Suzanne Suzanne

    Working in a university setting where college students are daily making decisions that will impact the rest of their lives, I see their constant desperation to make sense of their identity of student, major, intern, and career projection. I really appreciate the fact that you have highlighted how our identity should rest in Christ alone – He is the only one who is eternal and the relationship that we build with him will never cease. Thanks for your encouragement!

  2. MARY ELLEN Blackburn MARY ELLEN Blackburn

    Beautiful!!!

    Mary Ellen Blackburn meblack@uga.edu 706-540-5955

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