Identity Always Precedes Activity

This is a guest post from Jeff Goins. Jeff is a writer, speaker, and blogger. Jeff has also become a friend and I’ve enjoyed the times to hang out with him. He’s a sharp young mind you should get to know. Check out his new eBook, You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One).

Here are some thoughts from Jeff:

I’ve spent too much time trying to prove something to myself instead of living into the reality of my identity.

I’ve labored and toiled, desperately trying to affirm in myself what I hope is true about me. That I’m good enough. That the world needs to hear my message. That what I have to say counts.

I’ve wasted years on this pursue and not spent nearly enough time grasping my identity as a child of God. A son. An heir.

And frankly, I’m tired of it. It’s exhausting and pointless. I’ve given up on proving things (to me or you) and started surrendering to who I am. In the process, I’ve learned two lessons:

Lesson #1: You are not what you do.

Your identity comes from some place deeper than your resume or list of accomplishments.

This is important, because in a culture of competition, it’s easy to get lost in the rat race. To chase the horizon and never catch it.

So many people live out of their false selves, constantly performing for an invisible audience and never feeling satisfied.

This will leave you dissatisfied and disillusioned. The way out is to trust what God says about you is true:

  • You are accepted.
  • You are righteous.
  • You are forgiven.
  • You are loved.

Lesson #2: What you do comes from who you are.

This is related to the first, but still worth stating, because so many people aren’t doing this. They’re living out of some fake place of pretense — a facade, a front. And everyone can see it, but them.

The way out of this is to stop lying to yourself. To admit you are who you already know you are:

  • A writer.
  • A dreamer.
  • A plumber.
  • A dancer.

Whatever it is that you were made to do, it’s time to stop hiding and start believing. And then, once you believe, it’s time to do it.

So many people are waiting for God to tell them what to do with their lives, but I believe God is waiting for those people to be who he’s made them to be.

Are you still living life with a performance mentality? Or have you finally given yourself to be who you are? If so, what are you?

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33 thoughts on “Identity Always Precedes Activity

  1. I discovered your weblog website on google and test just a few of your early posts. Proceed to maintain up the superb operate. I simply extra up your RSS feed to my MSN Information Reader. Seeking ahead to studying more from you in a while

  2. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added”
    checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several emails
    with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from
    that service? Cheers!

  3. Thanks Jeff for the reminder. I throughly enjoyed your book "You are a writer". It's true that often we forget our identity and get stuck with our day to day compulsions. Thnaks for the encouragement. I am blessed.

  4. Grateful for Jeff who has inspired me. I finally started to write at averageabundance because average is the majority but abundance is a choice.
    On the dreadmil today a catalyst podcast speaker, @Loswhit, discussed a worship leader’s job, to lead people through not to. The struggle with desiring to be noticed (being effective and admired) and being satisfied as an “invisible” or as BogGoff says, cape-less example, is a balance of tensions.
    Same podcast included an interview with Brenda Salter McNeil who spoke on racial reconciliation. I question,why so many labels?
    Are we more concerned about what we look like as we do? Are we effectively encouraging one another and building each other up? I am warned. When I discover who I am and my value and purpose is in Christ’s plan through me it is ok to be this, average yet abundant, mom of 5. It is ok to adopt white kids (I thanked God for that as no one knows or thinks I did a great thing).
    I did run a recent race in a cape though!
    Praying for you, Ron, as you move on. Together as we magnify Christ who lived pointing to the Father.
    Twitter: eccle0412

  5. This is so true!

    The journey is about discovery (identity/calling), not an end result (activity). The discovery can only happen when we abandon the focus of "getting" and live for the purpose of what God is "giving/revealing". Simply stated, you cannot be open/available to what God is giving if you have conditioned yourself to focus on the getting. The Enemy's strategy is to have us riveted on the end result. The question is "How do we move from the "getting end result" model to the "receiving what God is giving" model?

    I have a friend who has written a startling book about this very topic. He and his message have served to challenge, strengthen, and encourage me as I relax my grip of "getting" to be open (handed) to what God is "giving".

    "The tragedy of life is not death, rather it is what we allow to die within us while we live" ~Norman Cousins

    "Don't ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do that for what the world needs are people who are alive" ~Howard Thurman

    d is giving is exactly what
    Where on Jeff's site ( or is this post located? Is this a full Gopost or several posts woven together?

      • That'd be great. Thanks Ron. Feel free to have Jeff contact me at the email address I listed if that's easier.

        • Jeff, thanks for the kind comments and the great list of quotes. I loved them. However, I'm not sure I understand the question. This post was written exclusively for Ron's blog.

          • Thanks Jeff. You just answered my question. I now understand that this post was written exclusively for Ron's blog. The way it was represented in Ron's blog made it appear to me that he was "forwarding" or re-posting a previous writing of yours.

          • Thanks for that. As a rule I don't repost. Haven't yet. Might someday.
            Twitter: Ronedmondson

  6. Even Christ models this. He received confirmation of His identity in his baptism, “This is my Son…” Only then did He enter His ministry.

  7. Funny, I had just read Jeff's post for his 15 day challenge and got to yours in my email and thought now this is really neat, this sounds just like Jeff….and it was…..I have found that no matter what I do in life, secretary, mother, daughter, wife, pastor, friend, caregiver, retired, now writer…I am still the same person God created me to be…I just wear different hats….and each one prepares me or helps me with the rest.

  8. You hit on a key to true joy in life – being who God created you to be. We spend so much time trying to figure out what we were created to be, and in that figuring we get mixed up with the world's ideas and expectations. Getting to know Christ leads to getting to truly know yourself. Once this happens, true joy comes when you live in who you were created to be. You don't have to figure it out because He already has it figured out for you. All you have to do is get close enough to Him to read the blueprint of you that he's holding. On a related note, I spoke on this at a Mother's Day brunch recently. Here's a link to the PDF on my church's women's ministry blog:….
    Twitter: KariScare