The thin line between who we are and what we do.

Harry* and I worked side by side for over 15 years, and then the factory closed sending us into the world of unemployment. Years later I met Harry while waiting in my eye doctor’s office. He was still distraught about the factory closing. We talked about the years working side-by-side until my appointment, I never saw him again. Months later I read that he had taken his own life. Of course, there could be other circumstances surrounding his tragic choice, but his loss of a job had demoralized him. Could it be that what he did was more important to him than who he was? (*not his real name)

“If you are what you do when you don’t, you aren’t.” William J. Byron in Finding Work Without Losing Heart.

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Are you defined by what you do, or defined by the person you are? 

Do not buy into the idea that what you do is of greater importance than who you are!

When I think of these two people my mind focuses more on who they are than on what they did:

Mother Teresa – She exhibited a heart of compassion.

Billie Graham – He defines integrity.

When I’m in a social gathering, I notice that when men initially meet each other the first question after getting each other’s names is; “what do you do for a living?” After that is defined, men can go on to favorite sport’s teams, politics, who they know, then maybe one will venture to ask; how’s your family?” Men peg each other first by what they do.

The question remains, not how do others define you but how do you view yourself?

We define ourselves more by our ‘NO’ than by our ‘YES’ in life.

In describing the life, you want to live, to what have you already said no?

I have said no to drinking acholic beverages, no to watching pornography, no to spending money foolishly, and a list of other things. In making these decisions, I have provided a boundary around my lifestyle giving me complete freedom to live a happy, fulfilled life.

It defines who I am to myself. I have peace of mind by saying no to a few things rather than yes to anything.

“A man’s heart is what he is.” R. B. Kuiper
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…” Proverbs 23:7a

Some retirees have the problem since no longer what they do matters much. Don’t let that be you.

Whatever age you may be, you can define yourself by being the person you attain to be. Not what others think of you.

Being thankful for ‘who’ I am.


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(header image by; Unsplash – Mohammad Alizade)