January 11, 2022

What You Do Isn’t Who You Are

Written by Shana Schutte

Your role is what you do; your identity is who you are.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – January 11, 2022

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Just in my adult life, I have been a student, teacher, a salesperson, and a manager at a tech company. For years now I’ve been a writer, and now I run a business as a coach for singles who want to find a committed relationship. I’m also a sister, daughter, bonus mom, wife, and grandma. My roles have changed many times over the years. 

Maybe you can relate.  

One of the challenges of changing roles is that we might feel unimportant, lost, or confused about who we are.  We get into emotional trouble and can experience discouragement and even depression when we identify too closely with what we do instead of who we are in Christ. 

I once spoke with a successful business man who shared that it’s important not to get one’s identity confused with accomplishments or money.  “Have you ever heard about Olympic athletes who work for years and give all they have to get the gold? Then, when they win it, they feel lost and depressed because they don’t know who they are or what they’re supposed to do next.” 

Pastor Timothy Keller said, “When work is your identity, success goes to your head, and failure goes to your heart.”

Because God will lead us to change assignments and roles, we must be mindful that while we live, God always has purpose for us and good works to complete, but that our identity is not in what we do. It’s also not in what we accomplish, how much money we make, or how popular we are. 

Moses experienced many role changes during his lifetime. He was first a slave, then a prince, a fugitive, a shepherd, and finally a leader of the Hebrews. When he was a shepherd in Midian, I wonder if he ever questioned if God had forgotten him. After all, he went from being a prince in Pharoah’s house to hiding in the desert. Remember this important truth: Just because a role change isn’t glamorous doesn’t mean it isn’t part of God’s plan. Moses was exactly where God wanted him to be. He was being prepared for a new role and calling. 

Right after high school, I attended a junior college and stayed at home to save money to attend a larger university a couple hours from home. It was an easy transition. But then when I moved away to a university with thousands of students, I felt like a small fish in a big pond, unimportant and invisible. In high school, I personally knew my teachers and they knew me. At junior college, I was actively involved in many extra-curricular activities. But at my university, I felt lost and depressed. I had confused my identity with my role.  

Your identity is not, and has never been, in any role you fill. Your role is something you do; your identity is who you are. In Christ, you are chosen (John 15:16); redeemed (Ephesians 1:7); a child of God (John 1:12); known (Jeremiah 1:5); God’s handiwork (Ephesians 2:10); a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20); a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17); and created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). 

No matter what role you fill now or in the future, you make a difference just by being you, and God has a plan for you to glorify Him. You have been created by Him, and as long as you have breath, you have purpose in the world. Your presence matters. 

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14).


Lord, how I praise you that my identity is not based on the shifting sand of shifting roles or circumstances. I am loved by you; I matter, and as long as I have breath on the earth, I have purpose for being here. Thank you, Jesus.


Do you feel you have placed too much value on what you do? Do you feel you are only important if you are fulfilling a particular role? If so, why do you feel this way? Talk with the Lord about it.

Related Reading

2 Timothy 1:7; John 15:15; Genesis 1:27

Worship Resource

Steven Curtis Chapman: Fingerprints of God


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