[Willow Creek Association] 1998-05-27 - Who Are You?

When I was majoring in Business Administration in the early 80's, the Dean of the school took me under his wing. He was always encouraging me to be a "business person." I can still hear him today saying, "David, when you get out in the real world and into 'business' (I wish I could do his Southern drawl for y'all here!), then you will be somebody. He kept saying "you and the boys will hang around, saying to each other, 'How's business?'" Sounded easy enough to me! I would become what I was, i.e. my identity would be what business I was in.

My personal mission statement in life at that time was, "I will be the most successful person I can be. I will be respected and admired by those around me. I will accumulate the most toys and wealth that I can and then retire early to a life of leisure." (Lots of "I" in that statement)

So, fresh out of college, I hit the ground running. Clinging to perception that my self, my image, my worth were inherently tied to what I did for a living - and more importantly, to just how successful I was. Another cliche that stuck with me was, "It's not what you know, but who you know."

So I ran around joining every civic group, volunteering for anything and everything. I wanted to know everyone. One day, I was in a Board of Directors meeting for a civic group, and I looked around the room and thought, "gee, I know all these folks, but none of them really know me." So then, I realized the cliche is wrong. It's not who you know, but rather who knows you, and by the way -- it does matter what you know.

After a few years of taking every course I could take and earning a few initials behind my name, I did in fact become more successful by worldly standards, but something was still not right. I had become what I did for a living. The amount of business I was doing, and the number of toys I was accumulating, determined my self-worth. I can remember feeling unworthy and getting downright depressed if I didn't have enough "deals" working in the pipeline. I can remember feeling like the "King of the Hill" when deals were flowing and business was great.

Do you see what happened to me? I was not the person God made me to be, but rather the person the world told me to be. I was molded by the world around me, not by the One who made me. My self-worth was purely external. Who I am? One day this verse knocked my socks off.

1 Peter 2:9-10 (NIV) But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God. Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Oh! Now I think I get it. It's not who I know, who knows me, what I know or what I do for a living that really matters. It's not really "who" I am, but rather "Whose" I am. Wow… see the difference? If you are a Christ-follower, you are His. You belong to Him. Your true fulfillment in life, your self-worth, and your sense of being are all fulfilled in belonging to Him. What a relief!

So what's my purpose in life, and who am I? I am His, and my purpose is simply to declare the praises of God, or in other words, to bring Him glory. Pretty simple when you think about it, and very freeing. Its not who I am, what I do, what toys I have or how big my bank account is -- but rather Whose I am. My and your purposes in life are simply to bring glory to the One to whom we belong. My personal mission statement is one sentence long. "I will live my life to become all that God made me to be, so that my life will bring Him glory." How about you?

Father, thank You again and again, for Your wonderful Word, for Your Truth, that You laid out for us in this wonderful book called the Bible. Thank you for sending the Truth to walk among us, to die for us, so that we can belong to You. In Christ's Name, Amen.