What Duke Basketball Reminds Us About Identity

What Duke Basketball Reminds Us About Identity

Bryce Johnson February 22, 2017

What an unpredictable and unique season for the Duke Blue Devils! They have experienced winning streaks, losing streaks, injuries, crazy behavior from their star player, and back surgery for their head coach.

They began the season as the number one ranked team in the country, but slipped midway through the year, and at one point had a 3-4 record in ACC play.

They have a very talented roster that consists of young guys and veterans, but getting everyone healthy and playing together has been challenging.

At one point, Coach K took away their privilege of wearing Duke gear and entering the locker room. Now, they have won seven games in a row and are looking like a championship contender.

ESPN recently wrote an article with the headline, “It took some time, but Duke is finally finding its identity.”

Senior Matt Jones said, “At that point [the first meeting against Wake Forest], we really didn’t know who we were. We were just trying to get wins. Now we’re becoming a much tougher team. We’re starting to create an identity for ourselves, and that in itself gives us confidence.”

As an avid viewer of Duke games, I noticed how lost and confused they looked earlier in the season. They didn’t appear to be on the same page, and definitely weren’t clicking. They have finally come to understand who they are and where they are heading.

Having an identity as a team is crucial to the success of a team because when the players and coaches know what they need to do to pursue that identity, winning is the result. The qualities and beliefs of a team distinguish them from others and give them an identity as a team.

The concept of identity can be complicated, yet an important matter in sports and life. Many of us find our identity in our jobs, or accomplishments, or status, or bank accounts, or even past mistakes. We attach ourselves to one of those things and allow it to define or represent us.

However, as followers of Jesus, the identity we must place the most value is rooted in who we are because of His work on the cross. We are no longer defined by what we did or what we do, but instead we are identified as forgiven and redeemed children of God.

When we rest in that identity (the qualities and beliefs that distinguish us), we can experience tremendous freedom while living a satisfying and God-glorifying life.

Ephesians 4:22-24 (NLT) says, “Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”

As we live in view of these life-changing words, we can experience the great peace that comes from knowing our identity isn’t based on anything we do, but is rooted in someone so much more powerful.

Because of Jesus, we now know who we are…whose we are…and where we’re heading.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I’m so thankful that my identity is found in Christ. I am no longer who I used to be and I am now seen through a new lens. Please help me live in a way that isn’t focused on my identity being wrapped up in the wrong things. Remind me that my identity isn’t defined by what I do, but instead by what’s been done through Jesus. In His name I pray, Amen.

Check out more from Bryce Johnson on sports, faith, and life at Unpackin’It