There’s not much that rattles my nerves like a job interview. Before moving to Mustang, I attended a job fair at a local school district. After signing in, I waited in line for a secretary to greet me and pair me with an administrator for a brief interview. When it was my turn, a sweet lady shook my hand and asked me my name.
“Jessica Boling,” I responded.
And then I panicked. I had given her my maiden name by mistake.
I seriously considered just letting it go, not correcting myself. I realize how ridiculous that sounds, but as an introvert who hates conflict, it’s sometimes easier to just go with it (I once let a pastor call me Jennifer for over a year before a friend corrected him). I weighed it out in my mind, trying to decide if the hassle of correcting her was really worth the trouble. I mean, it didn’t really matter that she knew my actual name, right? In about 60 seconds, she’d hand me off to an administrator and I’d probably never see her again.
Except that her role in the job fair was to introduce me to the administrator. By my name.
After half a second of weighing the possibilities, I decided that if I actually did get the job, I didn’t want to have to explain my mistake to HR, or, more likely, go through the trouble of changing my name back to Boling.
“I’m sorry, my name is actually Jessica Pool. Boling is my maiden name.”
“Oh, that’s sweet,” she chuckled, grinning charitably, “did you get married recently?”
Awkward pause. “No, I’ve actually been married for 8 years. I’m just really nervous.”
Why do job interviews make us so nervous? The pressure of presenting the best version of ourselves, knowing our every move is under strict scrutiny, combined with the very likely possibility of rejection creates a perfect storm of anxiety. We are intensely vulnerable but expected to show the perfect amount of cool confidence. Interviewers are checking our references and our credibility. We are under examination. We have to be well-prepared, well-dressed, and well-versed in our 3 greatest strengths and weaknesses.
A friend of mine recently went through an intense interview process. I commended her on not being a total basket case during the long, drawn-out interviews. She fought against anxiety and doubt by dwelling on these three thoughts constantly:
- You are deeply loved by God.
- You are not defined by your job.
- Be yourself.
My friend saturated her mind with these truths, reminding herself of her identity in Christ. Even if we aren’t facing stressful job interviews, these statements speak to our true identity in Christ as well.
- You are deeply loved by God. All through scripture we see evidence of God’s love for us:
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 1 John 3:1
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
God truly loves us! The crazy thing is, God sees us exactly as we are - all of our flaws, all of our shortcomings, all of our failures. He sees everything we despise about ourselves, every hateful thought we’ve ever had, every selfish act we’ve ever committed. He sees all of our sin and knows the exact depths of our depravity. And yet even as he knows us completely, he also loves us completely. Not because of our goodness, but because of his grace.
The most convincing evidence of God’s love for us is in the person of Jesus, the Word made flesh, who became like us so he could save us. Jesus, who, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8).” The death of Christ on our behalf exemplifies God’s great love for us.
- You are not defined by your job. In my friend’s situation, she was tempted to believe that if she landed the job, she’d be good enough and that if she didn’t, she was a failure. This might look a little different for each of us, but we all tend to define ourselves by some combination of the following:
- What we do
- What we have
- What other people think of us
Thank God none of those things actually define us! Our identity is not built on our good works, our material possessions, or our popularity. We can run ourselves ragged chasing after security and satisfaction from these things. If we believe our actions, possessions, or other people’s perceptions make us who we are, we will turn them into idols and be dissatisfied, unfulfilled, and drowning in defeat.
Christ not only died on our behalf, but he also lived on our behalf; where we are unable to obey, Christ has obeyed perfectly. Romans 5 tells us that by Jesus’ “obedience the many will be made righteous,” and that his “one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.” As believers, we no longer have to achieve, acquire, or awe. Instead, we can rest in the finished work of Christ, knowing that our identity lies not in what we have done, but in what Christ has done for us.
- Be yourself. In the beginning, God created humans in his image, imprinting us with the Imago Dei, the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Unlike any other created being, humans are formed in the image of the Father. This is true not just of the human race as a whole, but for each of us individually. According to Psalm 139, he has knit each individual person together in the womb. He knows us intimately. He has crafted us to be unique in personality and gifting. And it’s good!
By the Holy Spirit, God gives each of us gifts and abilities as he sees fit. That means that God gives gifts, talents, and abilities to believers in different ways. This is no accident! The church, often called the body of Christ, is meant to function as one. We all have different parts to play, and we each have a responsibility to embrace the gifts God has given us and use them for the good of the body (1 Corinthians 12).
Whatever form stressful situation take, they do not have to unhinge us. Be assured of your identity in Christ! We can dwell on the simple truths my friend shared. Believer, know that you are deeply loved by God. You are not defined by what you do, what you have, or what people think of you. And please, for the glory of God and the good of the church, be yourself.