The Hidden Cost of Defining People Only by Their Professions

Have you ever had a conversation with someone you had just met? You exchange pleasantries and eventually it gets to “ what do you do” and the customary nodding “oh,oh okay” happens? You can see the  wheels spinning in your counterparts head as you are assessed and place into a box that fits what you do.

There is a certain barometer that we use to measure individuals of some professions and another set for others.

Take for example the profession of medicine versus a janitor. When we meet persons from each category our minds conjure different images of who each person is based on what they do. We ascribe a certain lifestyle and possibly certain personality characteristics to each individual, making judgement about them.

When we size up someone based on this one dimension of their character, we end up with an incomplete picture of who they are.

Clearly their professions should be a part of this assessment but it should never be the sole rack on which we hang our assessment of each other. We run the risk of making incorrect assessments of each other because  many persons who hold esteemed careers have dreadful characters and vice versa is also true.

Samantha Gratton writes in her article, “In the end, our identity is so much richer than just what we do for eight hours a day. We all have significant relationships, things we’re passionate about and unique personality traits that can’t be encompassed by a job. More than that, whether we’re picking up garbage or sitting in a cubicle, our identity is found in Christ”.

When we use this one dimension we miss out on who God says his children are. We end up defining each other by the standards of the world and not by God’s standards. I love this verse that describes us as,

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9 ESV).

His word defines us as multifaceted, we are created in his image and we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

We are making an idol out of the job. What we do is  we place so much glory on the work that we do and neglect to give the glory to the one who deserves all glory. This becomes an idol because we hold each persons job description in higher esteem than God’s description of who we are. Who we are in Christ should take first place in our minds and become the filter through which view our accomplishments.

Here is a view than is more helpful. If what we do we do for God’s honor and glory then we would get no satisfaction out of being defined by our jobs. We are reminded by the scripture,

Colossians 3: 1-3, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

We are at our best when we define each other by the standards of God instead of the world. We are not our jobs, we should not be solely defined by our jobs but by the full complement of who we are in Christ.

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