Who I Am

Written by cycleguy on March 1st, 2011

Dustin, over at AbrahamChronicles.com,  had an interesting blog recently called “A Little About You, A Little About Me, in which he asked 10 questions of his readers.  I would like to encourage you to check out the blog and the questions.   I even answered the questions (I am # whatever down the list).  This morning (Tuesday) I even went back and added a song or two to my favorites list.

But it got me thinking and that is always dangerous.  🙂   I loved doing the exercise on Dustin’s blog.  And I loved reading the responses.  I found out not many share my taste in music, for one.  Or what makes a perfect day. Or where to go on vacation.  Or just about anything else.   But something struck me.  I am glad that Dustin did not ask what we did for a living.   I think that is good.

TOO. MANY. PEOPLE. HAVE. THEIR. IDENTITY. WRAPPED. UP. IN. THEIR. WORK. AND. WHAT. THEY. DO.

I am going to be the first to admit that I have fallen into that trap, and if I am being totally honest, sometimes still want to.  You probably already know, but I am the lead pastor of a church in Spencer, IN.   There have been times in the past that I took particular pride introducing myself as “Pastor Bill” or saying “I am the pastor of (whatever church it was).”  See, my identity was tied up in what I did.  I lost some of that when I was without a church for six months in 2000 but it returned when I was asked to pastor a church in Sandusky, OH and they insisted on calling me something besides my given name of “Bill.”  Not all, but some.  I despised Reverend, and I wasn’t a “Father,” so they settled for “Pastor.”  I was greeted that way.  I was introduced that way.  To be very honest, it got “heady” after awhile.

Then I moved here, where I was brought back down able to come back to earth.  These folks here weren’t into pretense and titles, which suited me just fine.  I was and am just Bill (except to some of the kids whose parents feel they are teaching respect by having them call me “Pastor Bill.”  Reckon that is better than “Mister Bill.”  Yeah, go ahead and laugh because I know what is going through your head).   🙂  All that, to say this:  for whatever reason, many, especially men, are insecure about who they are and what they are meant to be.  Our identity is tied up with what we do.  I have often asked myself, “What would I do if I was not a pastor?” and I hate to say it, but have come up empty.  I ABSOLUTELY LOVE WHAT I DO and wouldn’t trade it (except for a six figure income that would allow Jo to quit work and give us insurance).  Just kidding!  😛 No one’s identity should be tied up in their profession, their education or lack of it, their social lives, or their church.  Voices, either from our past or in our present, often whisper in our ear that we lack or have value because of what we do.  Nothing. can. be. further. from. the. truth! We find our identity in Christ.  What He thinks of us is really all that matters. My performance at work, at home, or even at church, is not what matters.  What God thinks of me is the difference-maker.  I AM NOT who I am because I am a pastor.  I AM WHO I AM because I matter to God and He has given me worth!

So…tell me…who are you?  Do you find your worth tied up in anywhere else except in Christ?  Please, my friend, change that immediately.  If you have struggled with this issue, what have you done to deal with it?  I would like to hear your thoughts.

 

39 Comments so far ↓

  1. dustin says:

    You know, you’re absolutely right. Almost without fail, the first thing we ask new people is “So… what do you do?” – which naturally drives the conversation to those things. Bill, working in the corporate world I am so guilty of that, especially in work functions.

    Thanks for the shoutout – I enjoyed learning a little about you over the last couple days.

    • cycleguy says:

      Dustin: thanks for coming by. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you more and others as well. Thanks for the confirmation about the identity. Always good to hear a “corporate workers” take on things. Appreciate you.

  2. Jason says:

    I always call older pastors “Pastor.” I mean it as a sign of respect for their position and wisdom and experience. My grandfather kind of pounded that into me at a young age.

    • cycleguy says:

      I meant no disrespect at all Jason to one who is called that. I am sorry if I gave that impression. I see nothing wrong with the sign of respect. I personally don’t want that to be a defining moment for me and who I am. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Zee says:

    Ha… ouch. Good one, Bill. (almost gave into temptation to call you Pastor Bill :))

    I haven’t had that many times when people I spend time with really know what my field of work is (besides the fact that it’s internet and websites), so I haven’t had the chance to identify myself with my job. My company, however, is another thing. It’s sometimes hard to distance myself from the fact that I work for the Chamber and that other organizations are our “enemies”… I found to be quite competitive and protective. It’s something that I am *sigh* sort of working on. It’s not an easy one to give up.

    But you’re absolutely right – I am so glad that my worth is not in my work or even ministries, but it’s in Him.

    Blessings to you, big brother 🙂

  4. Susan says:

    Well, Bill, you know from whence I cometh. You are right that some pastors are too insecure, or whatever, to be addressed by anything but “Pastor.”

    I’ve been going through a post mid-life pondering about who I am. My last child got married and moved out in 2009. It was hard. “Mommy” was my favorite name. I still hear it, of course, but it was a life-shaking change for me. I’ve discovered that being just “the old folks at home” with my husband is rewarding, and fun.

    Now I am a grandmother twice over, and that is a wonderful change. They are so much fun, and I get to give them back and get a good night’s sleep.

    I’m a teacher, too, tutoring a 12-year-old with ADHD full time. It’s a job I love.

    We all wear so many hats, don’t you think? We are all much more than what we do, and much more than the sum of who we are – especially if we are in Christ.

    • cycleguy says:

      Susan: I know of that insecurity issue. Been there, done that. It is a pride issue for sure. Even though you are going thru that post mid-life thing, you have much to focus on. (Ain’t nothing like being a grandparent for sure!) 😛 You are most def right that we wear many hats. You sum it up well. Thanks.

  5. jeff says:

    “We find our identity in Christ. What He thinks of us is really all that matters.” If I ask 10 people what that means I would guess I would get 10 different definitions. Sounds more like Jesus speak than a description of what a person does with the gifts God has given them.
    I like to be identified as a father, a grandfather, a friend, a colleague, a mentor. My performance in these areas matter a great deal to me and to the people I interact with.
    I can’t recall the last time God said what he thought about me.
    Am I missing your point?

    • cycleguy says:

      Jeff: it is Godspeak and I make no apology for it. I am coming from that worldview. My point was that many people, men especially, find their worth in their job and in what they do. for example, if I find my worth in being a pastor and not in who I am as a person (father, g-f, etc as you list) then I am missing the point. And no matter what I am, I matter to God. He loved you enough, no matter who you were/are, to sacrifice His Son. So that means you matter a great deal to Him. Still foggy? Thanks for the comment.

  6. lindaM says:

    Hi Bill,
    I am a divorced (for 7 years) older woman. I am someone who does not have social status, I do not have a long career(I was at home raising my 2 kids for nearly 20 years).

    I am someone who at times steps over boundaries. “Who do you think that you are?” I tend to get into trouble with other people before I am accepted by them, if acceptance is ever even attained by me.

    I think that I am understanding that some peoples’ desire is to do me harm at first. I think this is a response to their sensing that something is different about me and they don’t really like that. I’m annoying in that way.

    I am also an older woman heading into an somewhat uncertain future with God. But I do know and understand that no matter what I do or how my life goes I need to hold on to God and not let go. God is the deliverer and the provider.

    I am a woman who is enjoying her life right now except for a ‘lawsuit’ that I would really like to be done with.

    I am a woman who loves God and is moving toward having the mind of Christ even in his sufferings. I’m working with the Spirit to try and settle things in my mind that I want to live for Christ. I want to impact and influence others for
    Christ. I want to draw the ‘line in the sand’ against evil and wickedness (in Canada right now it’s snow 🙂

    I’m not dealing with some of the trappings of career and social status . I’m thinking that’s an advantage for me in what I envision in my walk with Jesus.

    • cycleguy says:

      Linda: You are a person who has had and is having a time of growth-spiritually and personally. But it appears you also know you are who you are because of God’s grace. That is my point. Your worth is not tied to whether you have a high paying job and extreme wealth. I pray you continue to grow. Thanks.

      • lindaM says:

        Hi Bill,
        Thank-you for the encouragement for me to keep growing. For sure anything that has been done over the years that is good in me has been God’s working by his grace.

        I am a differnt person then I was before January, 1982. I thought I was a good person when I was 28 years old that year, but I wasn’t conscious of how easy it was for me to do sinful things. As long as ‘the deed’ was acceptable to society in general that was good enough for me.
        In fact, when I look back at my early working years I realize now that people could tell me to do nearly anything at work and I would do it. Even questionable tasks. I was nieve and ignorant.

        • cycleguy says:

          You’re welcome Linda. Hopefully we are all different than we were however many years ago. That is one of the thing following God is all about- change. Thanks for coming back.

    • Susan says:

      God bless you, Linda. May He strengthen you, and keep you as you discover each day what He has for you.

  7. Jim F says:

    When I came to the church I am at now I was asked what I wanted to be called. I told people to called me Jim but their are many who do not feel comfortable doing that and the called me Pastor. Something else that is funny is that I have people call me Pastor at church and Jim all the rest of the time.

    Now there was a time that I foolishly wanted to be called “Pastor Jim” because I deserved that respect. I understand now that I am a child of God and equal to everyone else. I now know that I must earn any respect.

    I think of one of my favorite quotes from Braveheart – “Men do not follow titles they follow courage.”

    • cycleguy says:

      You and I are cut from the same cloth Jim in more ways than one. This is definitely one of them. And I love that quote!! I had forgotten it. Thanks.

  8. Michelle says:

    Bill, I struggle with this. Most women I know in my family have gone to college, got a job, and “done something” with their lives. I’m a stay at home mom and I homeschool and sometimes that feels very empty. It’s not an empty job. I’m good at it. My kids are challenging. My role can sometimes feel mundane, but there is always something new everyday to deal with although at times it might feel more of the same. I try to remember its where God has called me. Some days are better than others. I feel like sometimes people judge me, sometimes unfairly, because I am a SAHM, homeschooler. They think maybe I’m just bored and need something to do so I thought up this whole homeschool thing to pass the time. Or I don’t know…they wonder why I don’t just stick those kids in school and get some freedom. Like I haven’t thought of that one already? Hmm.. And so yes, I see others around me with jobs that pay money, recognition from co-workers and bosses, and all of that and I sometimes do feel like my job as a Mom is my identity. That’s when I need to refocus and remember that my identity is in Christ. That I’m His daughter. That His calling is a high one. that the world’s idea of success is nothing compared to Jesus. It’s a daily battle that I find myself in.

    This is a good reminder to all of us Bill, whether we are climbing the corporate ladder or nursing babies. Our jobs change, but our identity in Christ never will.

    • cycleguy says:

      Michelle: confession time. I used to have those feelings about homeschoolers. I knew some who were really lousy at it and never spent the time with their children they should. But I have learned over the years it is not always true. We have one very good SAHM in the church. I would let her teach my children any day. And you are another case in point. I know that you have special needs children and I totally admire your effort to take an active role in their learning. Please don’t ever allow the enemy or his helpers try to tell you that what you do is insignificant. You calling as a SAHM homeschooler is the highest I can think of. but I am so glad you know your identity is still in Christ and that will never change. Thanks for the open input here. I hope others weigh in on it.

    • Hang in there Michelle…you are honoring God is a most excellent way by being there for your kids. We have been home schooling for 21 years (3 kids in college now. God will reward you with much fruit! Blessings!

    • lindaM says:

      Hi Michelle,
      I think that as SAHM’s, as the children begin to grow older we feel that we really haven’t done a whole lot with our lives. Many people (men especially) have the idea that staying at home is being lazy and the ‘life of Riley’

      It is a privilege to be able to stay at home with your little ones and nurture and develop their beings. Young kids need their moms or their dads to be there for them. Nobody else can take that place.

      As kids get older I think there is a benefit in allowing other unrelated people or professional people to have some influence in their lives as well. I’m leaning a bit toward the secular saying that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. I know that I made lots of mistakes raising my children. What the kids couldn’t learn from me and my husband in those years I’d like to think they would have been able to learn from others had we involved others more in our kid’s lives.

      Just some thoughts. I believe you when you say that you are good at schooling your kids! 🙂

    • Susan says:

      Michelle, I don’t think you will regret the years of nurturing your children. I homeschooled my three for 19 years, and am now enjoying the fruit of that labor in good relationships with all of them.

      I had to deal with a lot of the same things you do over those years. People don’t know what to say sometimes when you don’t have a (recognizable) career path. God bless you as you walk this path for Him.

  9. Tom Raines says:

    I am who I am. I am hoping God uses me just as I am to let people know it is ok to be who they are. God will use our warts and all to further His kingdom.

  10. Moe says:

    Hi I’m Moe and I’m an… oh wait.

    I’m a son. that’s my favorite identity in Christ. I have access to a great father…and a pretty cool inheritance. That rocks my world.

  11. Jan Frame says:

    Well I have to confess that my identity has always been wrapped up as “mom”. I admit, I am still struggling at times with what to do now that the kids are out(well, Caleb is practically out since he lives on campus). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “most of my adult life my job was as “mom”, now I don’t know what my job is.” I am learning to lean more on God and just be his child, and let Him work through me. Not always easy to do, but I have found that I can devote more time to prayer & reading and now that I say this,I realize it’s God who has worked in my heart to put the desire to pray & read more now that I’ve got no more children to raise. I can enjoy the grandson, but don’t have to raise him 🙂 Great post Bill, gives me more things to think about.

    • cycleguy says:

      Jan: you have been and are a wonderful mom. You can wear that proudly. But that empty nest can be harrowing and fun. Enjoy it! 🙂 Besides, you have that grandchild to spoil. Rejoice in God’s time for you right now. thanks for coming by.

    • Susan says:

      The empty nest can be daunting at first, but God has things for you to do for sure.

  12. Oh No “Mister Bill.” ….

    I think I just call you my friend..OK?

  13. Hmmm.

    Nope, I am who He made me to be.
    (Aren’t we all, or am I missing something?)

    He is my Alpha and Omega in all things. I’m a son of the Living God, first and foremost, and then a husband and father.

    Yep. There it is.

  14. jay sauser says:

    I still do somewhat with some things, but i’m learning to get rid of some of it since I’ve gone from full time student pastor to part time clerk at a gas station/conveience store. 🙂