Do Who You Are, and Be What You Do

“Who are you and what do you do?”

That’s the somewhat abrupt way that one of my favorite podcasts — Six Pixels of Separation — begins. Mitch Joel asks his guests to identify themselves, and to connect who they are intimately with what they do.



When I moved to the South, I heard someone describe the region as a place where the question “Who are your people?” was more relevant than “What do you do?” And there’s lots of cool things to say about this southern idiosyncrasy.

And yet, as with the notion of ambition, I’ve become a little weary of evangelicalism’s propensity to shy away from identifying oneself with what one does.

I get it. We can make an idol out of anything. We can think of ourselves and others merely by what our superficial titles say about us. That’s bad.


My most fundamental identity is discerned through the question “Are you a child of God, a new creation in Jesus?”

Apart from that, the question “What do you do?” is the best way of finding out who I really am.

It’s coming at me from all directions, and it’s now unavoidable. It’s time align who I am with what I do.

Jeremy and Jason of Internet Business Mastery have been talking about the clarifying process of identifying their Single Motivating Purpose. It’s helped them figure out what to do and how to do it across their vocations: as husbands, fathers, entrepreneurs, educators, friends, and neighbors.

Stephen Covey’s incredibly helpful book First Things First has me reluctantly realizing the value of formulating a Personal Mission Statement.

And of course there’s Simon Sinek’s incredible, most-watched TED Talk that implores us to Start With ‘Why?’.


As I look into the future and try to imagine a version of myself that is more fruitful than my current self, I realize I need alignment. I need to discern who God has made me, and what good works he has planned me to walk in from before the foundation of the world. I need a compass that will direct my steps and keep me off sidetracks. I need an in-Christ identity that transcends all of my particular callings — husband, father, church planter, neighbor, entrepreneur, disciple-maker.

As a church planter and a dreamer, my mind, my life, and my attention gets pulled in a zillion different directions. It’s time to decide who I am, and let that dictate everything about what I do. It’s time to bring what I do into such close congruence with who I am that I have no problem allowing others to define me by what I do.

More on this to come as I go through this process.


Have you written out your Single Motivating Purpose, or your Personal Mission Statement? Why do you wake up in the morning?

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