Recently I had the chance to work a large AAU basketball tournament with teams from all over the country. There was some talented young kids there and there were coaches from every Big 10 school, several SEC, Big 12, and dozen of mid-major colleges there to watch these 15 and 16 year old players. It was obvious the kids lived and breathed basketball. In watching them on the floor, in between games, and walking the halls, it was obvious their entire identity was wrapped up in that sport.
OK, that’s fine. They are 16 and, for the most part, don’t have a clue about what their life will be like in 5 years…or what living in “the real world” will require of them.
Then I saw their parents. Ah…that explains it. I was amazed at how many of those parents yelled, screamed, kept stats, and took notes while their kid played. I understand it can be a big deal if your kid is one of the few that may have the ability to play in college and earn a full scholarship, but it was apparent that their entire life was wrapped up in basketball and their kid.
What’s wrong with that? What happens when Johnny doesn’t get an offer to play college ball? Or blows out a knee and never plays again? Or is burnt out and doesn’t want to play anymore? Who are those parents then? Odds are they become angry, bitter, and who knows what else.
Here’s the bigger idea: Be very careful where you have your identity, because if something happens to that, you are left trying to figure out exactly who you are.
I was working with a small business owner who was thinking of selling his business and retiring. On his notes he wrote, “What am I without the store?” The question hung there like a huge weight around his neck. He had no identity outside his work.
We all have this void in our life where we place our self-worth and self-esteem. The problem is we all try to fill the void in our life with so many different things:
Job (most common for men), kids (most common for women), our marriage, our extended family, our hobbies, or even our church/religion.
So what happens when we lose our job, our kids go off to school, our wife leaves us, or our church upsets us?
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “…He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
See it? The problem and the answer are both right there. The void we are trying to fill is this longing in our heart for eternity. The answer isn’t my job. It isn’t pushing my son to be an all-star athlete at age 8. It isn’t completely focusing my entire life on my wife. It’s eternity. The problem is we can’t fully fathom what God has done, which means we have this burning desire for something we will never be able to fully understand. But, the answer in our heart can be satisfied by having a relationship with Jesus because only in Him can we have a secure knowledge that a longing for eternity is met.
Without that kind of foundation, as soon as that area of our life we’ve staked our identity cracks, crumbles, or disappears, we don’t know what do. We’re lost. And when that happens we try like mad to hold it all together or completely give up on life…because we have no other option.
Now, none of those things I mentioned (job, kids, etc) are bad. In fact, we need to be passionate about them and pursing them to get the most out of this life. But, those things can’t be who we are or what we are most known for. Think of it like this…what do you want to be know for when you die?
Me? I want to be known as a loving father, great husband, good friend who had a passion about people and helping men be all God made them to be.
All those things can only happen if my foundation is my personal relationship with Christ. Because, without Him, none of those things will ever be what I want them to be. Why? Because I can’t do it on my own…and neither can you.