By Rob Genin

Who am I? The business world, like every community in our world, is concerned with questions of identity. That is natural; the work we do reflects our identity, as a farmer takes great pleasure and significance from cultivating the land and watching it grow.  A carpenter or metalworker looks at their completed handiwork, knowing that their job well done is an expression of their creativity and skill. I recall several years ago when I left my first job to go back to school, I would answer the phone and, after saying my name, almost reflexively add the company I had worked for. That job was part of who I was for four years.

In the business community we can often over-identify with our jobs. Sometimes that identity exerts pressure. For example, the phrase, “You are only as good as your last sale”, is an axiom that puts stress on every salesperson. It is also possible to start defining our lives by the results of our accomplishments, whether it is a home, a zip code, an exclusive club, a particular car or the trips we take.

These pressures and temptations are real, but they are not our identity. We do not need to wonder who we are. While not everyone in our world today is aware, God has created us and given us our identity and purpose. Genesis 1:26-28 says this:

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  So, God created mankind in his own image;
in the image of God, he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

The first thing this text establishes is that our identity is not self-determined. As created beings, we were created for purposes determined by our creator. Those purposes are expressed in a wonderful variety of ways as there is a wonderful variety of people. Each person has a unique fingerprint, and so these determined purposes are tied together with God’s specific love of each of His children.

From the text above, there are three basic purposes everyone has been given. These three primary purposes find expression in and through our work, and through every other human endeavor.  They are dominion, multiplication and reflection.

 Dominion: God says that people are to rule over the sky and sea and land, and all their inhabitants. God intends this to be a caring rule and leadership, whereby we steward the responsibility entrusted to us – to bring about flourishing in all things. Care for creation and a wise use of creation began in the garden – it has always been a part of man’s responsibility. We are stewards – we care for all things under the authority of God. This work is manifold – and calls for farmers and construction workers and computer programmers and accountants and a thousand other occupations. All legitimate human work in some way engages with this responsibility.

Multiplication: God created the world with two people. The work of careful dominion and stewardship would take more people than that! From these two people have come all nations, and a present count of eight billion. God desires that the earth would not merely have people – but many people, who together would exert the loving care and dominion which he entrusted to Adam and Eve. God is for large numbers of people on the earth.

Reflection: Man was made in God’s image. As a purpose, then, man was made to “image God”. Mankind has an incredibly important role – because when we see people, we see the reflection of the glory of God – in creativity, industry, justice, compassion, and love. Man was made male and female, which says that the distinct presence of two genders was important to reflecting His complex character. This is another reason that God loves the abundance of people on the earth – they more fully show His glory in their own multitude. This amazing reality of the image of God also explains why all people have dignity and value – in their unique ways each one reveals the glory of God.

As people living and working today, we do not need to create our own identity. We are more than our sales quota or zip code. We are the remarkable, intentional creation of God, full of dignity and value. God has made us for amazing purposes. All the complexity and variety and wonder of the world and its work is grounded in this basic reality – God created mankind and has good purposes for us. God has a purpose for you.