Men, Identity, & Why Your Job Isn't the Right Place to Find It

Ten years ago, if I had met you face to face, I would have asked what kind of work you do, mainly to get you to ask me the same.

I would have wanted you to know what kind of work I did, because my identity was tied to my work. I was a strength and conditioning coach, and I believed it defined who I was.

The same is true of many of the men I encounter in my daily activities.

“I’m a CEO.”

“I’m a military special operator.”

“I’m a general contractor.”

Pick your title.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that we’ve got it exactly wrong. Our identity isn’t determined by what we do.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I learned this lesson as a young boy who grew up with allergies, asthma, and other skin disorders that kept me from participating in normal childhood activities. I couldn’t eat the same foods or play the same sports.

I grew up believing I was weak and unlovable. I didn’t believe I would ever be successful because my identity was tied to the things I was able to do.

But then I stumbled onto exercise, and I figured out I was good at it, and it made me feel better. Being strong became my identity and it became a sort of obsession in my life. I was trying to figure out who I was, and fitness was the metric I used to measure my success.

The problem with that kind of thinking is that there’s ample research to suggest that when we lack a sense of purpose, it drives us to addictive behaviors. In some cases, that takes the form of alcohol, drugs, or pornography. In other cases, even healthy activities can become addictive. 

Now, instead of being a boy whose identity was tied to the things he could do, I was a man with the same kind of thinking. Exercise became an addictive behavior for me because I was trying to find myself by doing more.

So what happens to the special operator who loses a limb in combat and who can no longer continue to serve in the same capacity as before? What happens to the little boy who can’t do all the things that everyone else can?

If our identity is tied to what we do, when we’re no longer able to do those things, our identity falls away. Or in my case, when none of my achievements ever seemed to be enough, I found myself struggling with a single question:

“Am I good enough?”

If we listen to the wrong voices, we’re likely to believe the lie that we aren’t good enough. We’ll misunderstand who we are and why we’re here.

If, on the other hand, we listen to what our Creator has to say, we’ll hear a completely different message.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.”

Psalm 139:13-15

Junto Tribe was born of a desire to help men find their true identity in Christ.

The men of Junto Tribe understand that the world needs us to embrace our true purpose. The world needs us to display the same strength Jesus did during His time here on earth.

We’ve spent too long listening to lies, and we’re seeking the truth together. We’re seeking to ditch our false identities and claim our true ones.

When we surround ourselves with others on the same journey, we can combat the world’s lies and reinforce God’s truths. We can encourage each other along the way and improve the world around us.

Join us in our journey. God has so much more in store for us all.


Photo by Christopher Burns on Unsplash