At some point, every young person wrestles with the looming question, “Who am I?”. This question sets the average person on the desperate quest to find a sense of meaning, identity, and purpose in their teen years which, sadly, many never find the answer to. This is because they are looking in all the wrong places. Things like good grades, physical attractiveness, a large social media following, and money will never answer the cry of the human heart to live with a sense of conviction and purpose. Even good things like friends, healthy parents, and meaningful service towards others are all beautiful and good, but these will never ultimately answer the ache. This is because the real answer to that question doesn’t rest in your parents’ opinion of you, as influential as that is, or even somewhere deep in ourselves, as if attaining to some level of self-actualization will answer it. The question of “Who am I?” and the endless series of questions that flow from that – “What should I do with my life?”, “What am I called to?”, “Where should I live?”, “Who should I marry?” – can only be answered by the One who made you.  

My wife and I had our third baby a few months ago. I remember holding her and starring at her beautiful week-old face while she slept one day and thinking, she doesn’t have a care in the world. She is so secure and confident. Of course, the moment I put her down she would begin to wake up and start crying. This little girl had only experienced the harsh world outside the womb and things like cold and hunger for a week, and the only thing that would bring her comfort when confronted with these harsh realities was being held by mom and dad. What struck me was that this little baby, who had no mental or developmental capacity to ask existential questions like “Who am I?” and “How did I get here?” could feel such security and confidence in simply being held by me. You see, every newborn comes out of the womb on a desperate search not to find themselves, but to find mom. Ultimately, their sense of security and confidence comes not from knowing who they are, but knowing whose they are – from knowing that they belong to someone bigger than themselves and that safe person holds their very existence in their hands. Eventually this little girl will grow up to wonder who she is, what she’s called to, and what she should do with her life, but if there is a security and confidence in knowing who she ultimately belongs to, those questions will be joyful pursuits of curiosity, not desperate attempts at meaning and identity.  

We’ve been lied to that our sense of confidence must come from knowing who we are. If I wait around until I know myself fully to feel secure, I will find myself living with a wife that I have no capability to sacrificially love, kids that I have no capacity to confidently father, and plans that God has for me which I have no ability to walk out. In order to live with great confidence, we all must start with asking the question “Whose am I?”, not “Who am I?”.  

Paul writes in Colossians 3:3, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” According to Paul, your life is hidden, which means it is not evident or apparent on the outside, even to you. Meaning, we don’t come out of the womb knowing who we are and what our life is about. Instead, it must be searched for and discovered. Thankfully, Paul tells us exactly where to look – exactly where it is hidden. Imagine, for just a moment, if I told you there was a million dollars buried in a field and then I told you exactly where that field was. Now imagine that you heard what I said, went and bought a shovel, and started digging in a totally different field. Any who heard this story would consider you a fool. And herein lies our problem: millions of young people across the earth right now are all desperately digging, fiercely searching, but they are looking in the wrong field.  

Do you want to know who you are? Stop looking for you and begin looking for God. Search for Him with all your heart as you would for silver buried in a field, and seek Him as you would a hidden treasure. Dedicate your life to know this God that formed you in your mother’s womb; that loves you, that calls you by name, and that gave His life for you to know Him in real intimacy. As you search out the One “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3) and come to discover who He is, what He’s like, what He loves, and what His plans are for this planet, you’ll find yourself slowly discovering a different treasure – yourself. Buried deep in His heart are His thoughts towards you, His plans for you, His love for you, and His name for you. Hidden within Himself is you, fully loved and fully known.  

Sell everything you have, buy a shovel, start digging in that right field, and don’t look back until you find the true Treasure that you’re after. Something surprising will happen – you’ll find yourself stepping into your true identity in ways you never thought possible.

At IHOPU, our students build a foundation for the rest of their lives by spending hours seeking the Lord in prayer, studying the Word, and becoming rooted in the love of God—all while engaging in ministry with their fellow students. This environment provides the perfect place for them to “dig in the right field” and discover their true identity in Christ.

Ready to discover whose you are?

Learn more about how IHOPU or one of our internships can help you walk in your identity.

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Nathan Steel

Director of IHOPKC Internships

Nathan grew up in four different countries before moving to Kansas City to attend the International House of Prayer University (IHOPU) in 2011. Nathan graduated in 2015 and currently serves on the leadership team of IHOPU as the Director of Internships at IHOPKC. He and his wife, Rachael, have three daughters.

Important Update

It is with heavy hearts that we inform you that the Spring 2024 semester was the final expression of IHOPU.