Working on who we are.

A guest post by Jeff Arnold.

I have a love-hate relationship with my career. I love the work, but hate to be part of an industry that has been dying a slow, painful death for years.

When people ask what I do, I can’t get the word sportswriter out of my mouth fast enough. My answer is received with the romanticized reaction you’d expect as visions of spending days at the ballpark or arena immediately rise to the surface.

But the hate portion of the love-hate recipe partially stems from the admission that at times, I have allowed What I Do to take priority over the Who I Am relationships with my family, my wife, and my God.

It’s a road marred with pitfalls and potholes.

In the good times, my career was strictly hands-off – a race to the top I felt only I could control. But by allowing What I Do to define Who I Am, I left myself vulnerable to times when my job was eliminated or when stories I had high hopes for missed their mark.

So when I came across a line in Tim Keller’s book, Every Good Endeavor, it delivered a swift kick to the gut.

When work is your identity, if you are successful it goes to your head. If you are a failure it goes to your heart.

identityFailure has always been my biggest fear. So when failure hit my heart – especially as it related to my life’s calling – it took on greater significance. It caused me to rightly or wrongly, re-consider all I had known to be true.

Yet, it’s in that sobering moment when our true identity as one of God’s children takes precedence, helping us realize that what we do really has nothing to do with who we truly are.

What’s not to love about that?


Jeff Arnold lives in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood, where he works as a contributing writer for the Chicago Sun-Times and considers whether a second Chicago Marathon would be the end of him.

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