Some years ago, I was watching a political debate and heard a question that really hit me. It was a three way vice presidential debate. The first two candidates were Dan Quayle and Al Gore. Now while Quayle was widely portrayed as a buffoon, these two men were clearly polished. They were both men born out of political royalty, reared basically from birth to hold these positions. That year the third party presidential candidate was Ross Perot, a billionaire business man. Perot selected David Stockdale as his running mate. Stockdale was older then the other two men, evidently by quite a bit. He was a war hero and not a polished politician. He was virtually unknown to the American public (which is probably sad).
Quayle and Gore made their opening speeches, as polished and precise as one might expect and then the spotlight fell on Stockdale, who opened with a question for the ages… “Who Am I and Why Am I Here?”
Now he was widely lampooned for this opening remark. Some acted as if he were old and senile and simply lost track of his identity. I think it’s a question we should all ask ourselves from time to time because truth be known we all lose track of our identity sometimes.
For me, I get a little too caught up in what I do. If you were to ask me who I am, I’d probably tell you I’m an artist , a speaker and a pastor. That’s actually the wrong answer. That’s not who I am, it’s what I do and while that is important, it pales in comparison to who I am.
Who I am first of all is a child of God. If I’m a Christian, if I’ve placed my trust in Jesus, then I recognize the high price He paid to give me that privilege and so that identity must be first and foremost. If I let what I do come before this identity, my life will be out of balance and I run the risk of falling into idolatry. My first and foremost identity must be as a child of God.
To my mind the first thing after that comes the first thing I do. It’s my response to the privilege of becoming a son of God. I’m a Christ-follower. I live my life to follow Christ. My level of success varies at times, but I live to follow Christ.
After that we go back to the other things I am, husband, father, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin friend. These are the relationships that God has blessed me with. For the most part, I did nothing to gain these relationships but my life would be vastly less, were it not for these people in my life and since people are the only thing in this world that go with us beyond the grave, these “roles” are a vital part of my identity and should be a priority right behind my identity as child of God and Christ follower.
Once this identity (“Who am I?”) is established the rest of life will work much better. We’ll look at Why am I here tomorrow, but for now…
Who are you?