Identity Crisis: 7 Lessons Learned from Career Idolatry

February 1st, 2017

I had a mini-meltdown the day after I left my job at one of the top communication firms in the U.S. As I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t help but think, ‘Who is that person?’

I’m serious! Even though I had another job lined up with a solid stack of safety cash in the bank, I had no idea how I would manage to get through life without the title or prestige of that company attached to my name.

Some of you might know what I’m talking about. Whether you’ve been laid off or are considering a new career opportunity, it can feel nearly impossible to think of life beyond the place you’ve spent 50 percent of your time.

I get it. I’ve been there.

Here are a few mistakes I made that should help you avoid the never-ending downward spiral of career idolatry. I guarantee if you learn from them now, you’ll enjoy work and life so much more.

  1. I couldn’t stop talking about work. At home, church, text group chats, and more – you couldn’t squeeze a word into our conversation without me talking about my work life. Every prayer request was for landing a new client and every dinner conversation was about the pat on the back I received that day. Even worse, I was never really present with the people who mattered most – a true recipe for marriage and friendship disaster.
  2. My name was Mrs. [Company Name] [Last Name]. In other words, when introducing myself to others where I worked was heavily talked about before even mentioning my marriage, where I’m from, or what I like to do for fun. This was probably because I wasn’t very fun to be around in the first place.
  3. My future and happiness was directly tied to how work was going. I attended church every Sunday, went to small group each week, but I still could couldn’t put my life and future in God’s hands. Not when I recently got promoted and felt like my success and security was a result of my doing instead of His guidance.
  4. Friendships outside of work? Ha! Yeah right. I put so much of my energy into myself and career goals that I never made the time to pour into others and develop strong, genuine friendships.
  5. A mistake at work meant failing at life. I took mistakes so personally, that it made it difficult for me to constructively learn from them. This caused my confidence to take a huge hit, which was absolutely devastating since my identity was not set on God, but my own strength.
  6. I cared too much about what people thought. I constantly wrestled with what people thought about me and had no regard for what God thought.
  7. The question ‘Who Am I?’ scared the life out of me. This is a question that I can now answer confidently, but couldn’t at first. What about you?

Tim Keller says, “An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I 'll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.’” Although God commands us to work willingly at whatever we do, we have to make certain our significance and security are completely in him rather than our careers, families, materials possessions, you name it!

What about you? Do any of these scenarios hit home? Tell us, what are some ways you try to steer clear of career idolatry?

© 2014-2017 workmatters. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from workmatters.orgArticle by Whitney Gaines.

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