February 06, 2016

When Work Becomes Our Identity

Philippians 3:1-11

I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.

—  Philippians 3:8

Your resume is a valuable tool, whether you are a high school student looking for a part-time job, a seasoned employee hoping to secure a prestigious position with a leading company, or something in between. On your resume, you may boast about the degrees you’ve earned, the awards you’ve been given, or the success you’ve enjoyed on the job.

But what happens when we make these qualities into the central piece of who we are? It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our identity as employees, students, or parents that we can feel as if our worth depends on the work we do. Leaving our work behind—whether temporarily or permanently—causes us to lose our sense of identity. Failure in our work leaves us feeling worthless, while success creates a sense of arrogance and superiority. Our work is distorted by sin when we make it into our identity.

Paul’s resume was unmatched by most others. In our reading for today, Paul lists every quality that could have formed his identity: a top-notch education, professional success, religious devotion, moral excellence, and more. Yet he is quick to add that he would gladly throw it all away in exchange for a better identity as a child of God.

Your resume is not your identity; God has made you someone far greater than the sum of your accomplishments and failures. Rest in the joy that your identity is found in Jesus!

Father, we often use our occupations as a way to feel significant. Show us that we have a far greater identity in Jesus. Amen.

About the author — Rob Toornstra

Rob Toornstra has served as pastor of Sunnyslope Christian Reformed Church in Salem, Oregon, since 2006. When not busy with pastoral duties, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Amy, and their three children.

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