Are you stuck in the “what do you do for a living” trap? You know the trap when you feel cornered in a discussion where the most basic question for a new person to ask you is “what do you do for a living?”. It’s either a trap or a set-up for something great. For some of you, you are in an amazing season of your life where what you do matches the passion and impact you hope to make in the world. For others, this is a tough season, or maybe even a never-ending season. The treadmill of your career or position in life right now seems to not be moving or going anywhere.
When someone asks you “what you do for a living”, you have to make your boring desk job sound flashy, explain the importance to why you have decided to be a stay-at-home
parent, or even describe the handicap you have that prevents you from doing what you love to do.
While saying your work disclaimer, you immediately wonder “what are they going to think of me?”. You answer the question “what do you do for a living” with either excitement of what you HOPE people will think about YOU, or SHAME for how YOU are thinking about you. This stage of life may not be everything you had hoped for, but it’s here.
Either way, with a smile or a masked grin they both feel like a trap. Not a trap anyone intends on cornering you into, but a mind trap you have already been in all week long. The only difference is that the negative thought you have about yourself just surfaces when someone asks the question you have been struggling with out loud. “Who am I? Is this it? Is this all I have to show for myself? Is it enough? Is it all I had dreamed it would be?”
When did it start I wonder? When was the snare set for this mind trap we keep falling into? Maybe in Kindergarten when we got flooded with how cute our big dreams were of what we wanted to be when we grew up. What we become is who we are taught that we are. Our title becomes connected to our identity.
If Kindergarten didn’t pressure us enough, college sure did. The minute you got married you were expected to have an answer for “when are you going to start having kids”, and the same happens in college. No parent wants to pay for college while bragging about their child’s major as “undecided”. When you go, your expected to know!
“What do you do for a living?” becomes such a big question because you hear people asking, “Who are you?” This is the question your life is flooded with, and the question that you will either respond with a voice of pride, shame, content, or confusion. Which one are you in this stage of your life?
And no matter which emotion your response is connected to is the lingering thought of “which emotion does the person asking the question feel about me”.
As a human being with flesh, bone and blood, my heart wants to believe what the world asks of me and how it responds to me. That the reflection the world shows me is a description of me.
But as a disciple of Jesus (which in basic terms just means that we are students, following and learning from our teacher) my definition is so much bigger than my paycheck. So much bigger than where I go in the 8:00 morning traffic, and so much more than the breakfast, lunches, and dinners I make for my family.
Who we are is a reflection of our heart, is a connection with the influence we make on those around us, and defined by the priorities and value systems in place in our life. The world will tell you that WHO you are is defined by the occupation box you click on the forms you fill out. This is only a piece of who you are, just a season in your life.
Thank you Jesus that we are not defined by who we were in Middle or High School! Those were seasons, were pieces of us but not us in our entirety.
WHO you are is defined by WHOSE you are! Never let any thought in your mind, any person in your life, or any season you go through linger long enough to tell you otherwise. WHO you are will transform, morph, shift, and change. You are constantly growing. WHOSE you are, will never change, this is always who you are!
Now matter how you answer the identity trap of “what do you do for a living”, remember that your identity is bigger and more beautiful than what’s on your agenda for your work day.
Who are you?
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” Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27