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When we’re growing up, everyone from strangers to immediate family asks the same question: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Even at a young age, there are implications of our value tied primarily to the role we may or may not fulfill when we mature. Most of us aren't the astronaut or actress we dreamed we’d be when we were 5 years old. But hopefully, at any age, we still follow our hearts while following God's direction.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” - Psalms 32:8
At the age of 17, I joined the military. After seven years of active duty service, I was medically retired. I planned to give my all to make it a lifelong career, but my story didn't turn out that way. I soon heard people calling me things I never asked to be called. I was now a veteran, civilian, or disabled, instead of Doc, Corpsman, or combat medic. The titles I worked so hard for were gone overnight.
We all have titles, right? Husband/wife, father/mother, student/teacher, on and on it goes. We even gain titles from the depiction of our hobbies and interests. Then we have the title we give the heaviest importance: How we earn money. Culturally, we'll chalk someone's entire worth up to how they make a living without even batting an eye. And worse yet, we don't see any issue in that mentality.
Here's the problem: Our intrinsic quality isn't measured by the quantity of our income. Rather, it is measured by the quality of our character. Are you honest when no one is looking? Are you truly making a valiant effort to love God and love people? Are you productive? Every title we carry means absolutely nothing if we don’t operate in that area with quality of character.
“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!” - Psalms 119: 1-5
Often we equate our titles with our self-worth, value, or purpose. I know I did when my titles changed to ones I didn’t want. But here's the thing about titles; just like money, they don't transfer past the grave. What will transfer is how well you did or did not uphold those titles. If you're a doctor or a lawyer, did you do everything you could in the name of justice or for the good of humanity? Or maybe you work construction. Did you cut corners to eliminate some labor, or did you do it right and put in an honest day's work? No matter the position, the title, or the trade, these things never have and never will define you. Instead, your testimony will.
“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” - Proverbs 10:8
Guard your heart in what you pursue. Desire can lead to lust, greed, and gluttony, and ultimately a hollow shell of your former self. Satisfaction comes from contentment, and peace comes through appreciation. Those values focus on what is, whereas the need for “more” focuses on what isn’t. That doesn’t mean we should abolish ambition, as self-improvement is a never-ending journey. It simply means that a heart of gratitude is the not-so-secret secret to fulfillment.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” - Matthew 6:33
Take a moment today to reflect on what your motives are. What's driving you to pursue, maintain, or use your titles? If the answer doesn’t bring quality to your character, it might be time to reevaluate certain aspects of your life. Embrace your purpose, on purpose, and live intentionally throughout every title of your life from here on out.
“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” - 2 Timothy 2:22
Husband, father, writer, poet. Two time combat veteran with a passion for homeless ministry.