UNLEASH YOUR TRUE IDENTITY
Last week I met up with a former colleague over coffee, who I have not seen for close to five years. He has been one of the leading lights in the anti-apartheid struggle and we served in various capacities together post 1994. He recently retired and we exchanged notes about what is currently happening in our lives since we last met. In our discussion, whilst characteristically stroking his beard, he earnestly popped this question – so what happened to your political identity?
Well, I engaged him on what currently informs the focus of my attention and affection. As we continued our discussion, it also triggered afresh in my mind, the whole question of identity. We are all defined, without even realizing it, by the roles we play in life. Some of us find our identity in our work, others in status symbols and titles to affirm our worth or our association with powerful and influential figures in society. Other’s through our family lineage where we operate only in the higher circles of society based on the identity derived from the family name. At some stage of my life, I defined myself in terms of performance and an insatiable sense of success. During my meteoritic rise in the political and corporate environments, I operated in the commanding heights of power and influence. I recall when I exited my last executive position and drastically downscaled my level of public engagements, I found it quite difficult to introduce myself to someone because in the past, I instinctively drew on my title or position relevant to the set-up, to define myself. My name is Martin Kuscus the CEO of this, the Chairman of that, the President of whatever….
As I journeyed on my way to a new identity, I had to take an honest and rational view of who I really am without the title. This was quite a sobering yet fulfilling experience. It necessitated a very intense and intentional thought process that remolded an identity informed by something more enduring and authentic. During that time and even now, I consciously had to guard against the subtle desire to make others think that I am somebody or that I am going places, soliciting unwarranted admiration and respect.
Identity is valuable. It facilitates access to many things we take for granted for example the opening up of a bank account, driving on the road, travelling to a foreign destination, buying property, getting married, attending university etc. With the advent of technology, we also saw a rise in the incidence of identity fraud by crime syndicates on an unprecedented global scale. I recently listened on one of the radio talk shows about how the quantum of cybercrime by far exceeds the amount of money lost in bank heists annually. A person’s identity information if obtained illegally, can be used for all manner of fraudulent activities with devastating consequences.
Likewise at a higher level, we need to be cognizant of the fact that our Creator gave us a specific identity, because we are created in His image. We are reminded in John 10:10 ‘’ The thieve only comes to steal, kill and destroy.” With the sophistication of a modern crime syndicate, our adversary would like to rob us of and sabotage our:
- Self-worth where we don’t see ourselves as precious and valuable; endowed with unique gifts and talents.
- Vision – constantly in survival mode, focusing just on the immediate and without any futuristic perspective in mind.
- Mission – having no understanding of our purpose in life and stumble from one episode to the other; having no impact in our endeavors. Just hoping for the best as the Lotto advert goes – one day, is one day!
- Joy and peace – that inner state of contentment borne out of an intimate relationship with our Creator.
WHO DEFINES YOUR IDENTITY?
Many of us suffer from an identity crisis. We don’t know who we really are and try to fit into every available crowd. If you don’t know who you are, then you are at the mercy of others telling you who you are. In understanding your identity, it is imperative to find out what your Creator says about you. Bill Gates defines what Microsoft is all about, Richard Branson defines what Virgin is all about, period.
1 Corinthians 1:22 “He has identified us as His own…”
You are not defined by your circumstances, people’s opinions, what you have and do not have, your achievements or your setbacks; you are defined by Him and Him alone. I want to ask you to honestly reflect on the following two questions:
- What truths about me currently define my identity?
- What truths about me do I want to define my identity?
Before you answer the latter question, let me share with you what mine have increasingly become:
- Unconditionally loved by God and flowing from that relationship – serving my generation faithfully and making an eternal impact in the world.
- Integrity personified.
- Being a loving husband to my wife Liz and a respected father to Esther, Ezra and Zoe.
It’s your turn now. Take your time to really reflect on the two questions about your identity. After which I would like you to ask your Creator to give you the wisdom and courage to live out this new identity. “Your identity is what you have committed yourself to do. We can choose to fashion a new identity of significance based on a set of new commitments. Business as usual won’t do it. Neither will procrastination.” John Gardener.