An Identity Crisis Hurts Men and Families

In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will” (Ephesians 1:11 (NIV).

One of the saddest things I have seen is what happens on occasion to some strong and successful men when they retire from their job.  Yes, they might embrace new hobbies and have more time for old hobbies.  However, they sometimes miss their old job, especially if they were in a position of leadership or authority.  I had a friend tell me once that at work he was somebody and had power but outside of work he felt like he was nobody with no power. 

I am amazed at how so many men can not separate their identity as a person from the job that they performed to provide for their family.  Our identity as a person is perfect and independent from our occupation or anything that we might do, think, pray, or speak.  

To help us better understand our true identity, I encourage you to read the book God Knows Your Story And He’s Not Mad by Rev. Carter Featherston.  This is an excellent book that unpacks Ephesians Chapter 1.  This chapter gives me peace and hope but perhaps more importantly it helps me to understand my true identity, and I pray that it will do the same for you.  Below are just a few of the verses selected from Carter’s book. 

In Love He Adopted us as sons (verse 5).   Historical evidence indicates that in ancient Rome certain people adopted adults as a legal maneuver done in the interest of political or economic gain.  The wealthy ruling class would adopt young men to become ruling heirs, sometimes in place of biological sons that had proven themselves to be unfit for ruling.  In fact, many of the Emperors of Rome came to the throne through adoption.  Therefore, in the culture of Rome in the days of the Apostle Paul (who was a Roman), adoption was about singling out a person to confer power and authority on him.   We have all been adopted by our heavenly Father.  Romans 8:17 reads, “If we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, God adopted us.”  What an inheritance we have as His heirs!

In Him we have Redemption.  By the blood of Jesus we were bought, redeemed out of slavery and sin, and have been forgiven of our trespasses (verse 7).  God knows that we are slaves to sin.  But with the death of Jesus we have been ransomed.  He pronounced us “forgiven” by the blood of Jesus.   We are no longer defined by our sins.  Our new identity is forgiven, pure, and blameless.  Colossians 1:22 teaches, “But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”

We all want to know our purpose in life but this can only be revealed to us through Jesus.  Just as the Bible will not be meaningful if it is read independent of the Holy Spirit, your purpose will not be revealed if you seek it independently from Jesus. 

Ephesians 1:11 (NIV) is the feature Scripture at the top of this blog.  The Message translation of this verse reads, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for” (The Message).  In Christ, you find out who you are—that’s your identity. And you find what you’re living for—that’s your purpose.

The only way to know your identity and purpose in life is by getting to know your Creator.  God reveals Himself in many different ways – worship, prayer, friends, and more.  For me, there is no substitute for spending time in His word to better understand Him and myself.  If you really want to find out what your purpose is and how to pursue it, you have to get to know Jesus Christ and ask for His wisdom and direction.

Your work is not your identity.  Your identity is an heir of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).  I pray that you already know your identity and if not you claim it today. 

Prayer:  Dear God, Forgive us for failing to claim our true identity.  Help us to understand that our true identity is in You and not in anything of this earth.  Amen. 

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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