What defines who a person is?

advice header image

What defines who a person is?

Oct 10, 2011 |John Thomas
Question

I’m a young adult male struggling to find who I am and what I like to do. I’ve recently noticed that critical thinking was not a part of my childhood. I was told, or saw by example, what to be like and what to do and vice-versa. I'm strong in recognizing my position in and before Christ and seeing who He views me as. My question involves more perspective than that.

I'm a wishy-wash, go-along-with-the-flow kind of guy. I have no solid ground to make a commitment from or build a relationship off of. I may like one thing today and then with a little more information on it or persuasion by someone, I don’t like that thing anymore.

How do I stand my ground and learn to put my feet down where I should? What defines who a person is?

Answer

I appreciate your candor and desire to make some changes. You’re not alone. It’s completely normal and even healthy to sincerely wrestle with some of these questions as you navigate the waters of young adulthood.

First Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned as a child. When I became a man, I put childish things behind me.”

In context Paul is talking about spiritual growth, but he illustrates using a simple fact of life in general: As you mature from childhood to adulthood, things should change.

Not everything has to change about the way you think and see and understand the world. If you’ve been blessed to grow up in an environment that has treasured and modeled kingdom values and a Christian worldview, even imperfectly, you’ll have a great foundation to build upon. But wherever there is sand in our thinking (or wishy wash), God wants to replace with rock, and of course that is a lifelong journey.

To be fair, critical thinking is not primarily developed on any grand scale during childhood. You probably had a pretty typical experience; you were probably taught right from wrong, cause and effect. There’s not a thing wrong with that. It protects you and keeps you out of harm’s way while you develop. So don’t be too harsh on your childhood.

But now you’re a young adult and wanting to think like one, and that’s a good thing.

I have found that many people who struggle with “who they are” tend to think more in terms of personality types rather than character. They look more on the outside than the inside. Are they the “geek,” the “class clown,” the “boy scout,” the “player”?

That’s not the question to ask. God has made us all unique with various talents, personality traits and spiritual gifts. Those are shaped and reshaped as we mature in them and as the Holy Spirit grows us in those areas. But they all flow out of the foundation of character, which for the believer is the very character of God himself.

And there is where you need to begin.

Your question, “Who am I?” or “What defines who a person is?” can only be truly answered on the journey of asking, “Who is God?”

The oft-quoted A.W. Tozer statement from his book The Knowledge of the Holy is absolutely true: “What comes to mind when we think of God is the most important thing about us.” Right thinking about the nature and character of God is essential to right thinking about us.

The polar opposite of wishy wash is Jesus Christ. He is the immovable, solid Rock. He doesn’t waiver in His opinions. His thinking is perfect in every way. He doesn’t shift with the current tides or trends. He’s not at all influenced by a popular vote. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

We, on the other hand, will be blown around by every little change of the wind, every little opinion, unless we make Christ our goal. Pursuing and knowing the Rock transforms us into solid people.

That’s the great news of the Gospel. It, He, has the power to literally turn us into something we are not, from wishy wash to rock solid. This miraculous process is described in 2 Corinthians 3:18 this way: “And we all, who with unveiled faces, contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (emphasis added).

And again in Romans 12:2 Paul describes it this way: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will” (emphasis added).

From squishy to solid rock. True self-discovery is found only through the revealing of the knowledge of who God is. As we discover God in the face of Christ through the revealing work of the Holy Spirit, primarily through the Scriptures, we become like Him. Solid. Strong. Stable. Sturdy.

Paul is telling us that we become that which we gaze upon and open our heart to. It works in the negative as well.

Children go along with the crowd and live on sand. Take your stand on the One who never changes. Build your thoughts, character and opinions on the eternal Rock of all ages, and your wishy-wash days will soon be over.

Blessings,
JOHN THOMAS

Copyright 2011 John Thomas. All rights reserved.

If you have a question you'd like us to consider for this column, please send it to editor@boundless.org. Please note that all questions we select for this column may be edited for clarity and privacy and become the property of Focus on the Family.

Donate

Like what you see?

If you’ve enjoyed this article, will you consider giving a tax-deductible gift to Boundless right now? We’re a donor-funded ministry, and we rely on friends like you to help keep us going! DONATE NOW »

References
  • .

THE BOUNDLESS BUZZ

Get the FREE e-book A Girl's Guide to Marrying Well or A Guy's Guide to Marrying Well when you sign up for our e-newsletter.