As I ponder this next chapter in my life, I begin to wonder some things. One of those is my identity. Often, we are identified by what we do, our profession. Name, address, occupation are the three most identifying questions asked. So now I have to ask myself that question.
Since 1977 I have been a minister, preacher, pastor, clergyman, or whatever you want to call me. It marks who I am and what I do, or at least partly. It is how I self-identify (if I can use that phrase). I awake each morning, thinking about ministry duties I have to perform on that day. I evaluate myself using those descriptions. At the end of the day, I ask myself, “How did I do?” On Sunday afternoons, I ask my wife, “Was I OK today?” Meaning was the sermon good. As of January 25th, that role, that identity changes. Part of me will still be that, and always will I suppose. Yet, that is not what I will be.
So, then what? Well, I am going to Africa. I have been there before, and I have traveled to Mexico and Haiti to do mission trips. I have never been comfortable considering myself a ‘missionary.’ In my mind those are the people who leave home, country, family, and move into a foreign country to do church work. They have always been my superheroes. I have looked up to them for my whole life. So, while not comfortable with the name, and not being sure (especially in my own mind) with that title, at least in part I will be doing that.
I am going to Africa to teach a college. So, I suppose I could start calling myself a professor. I have had many professors: Bob Lowery, Gary Hall, Wayne Shaw, Harold Ford, Barny Wimer, Jim Maddux, Richard Owen, Glen Basey, to name just a few. (Sorry if I didn’t list you.) These men, and there are a few women who belong on this list, have fashioned me into the pastor I am. Sure, I have taught before at Lincoln Christian College and Puget Sound Christian College and in Haiti. Still, I am teaching one class for one semester (at least that is the size of it at the moment). Does that make me a professor (Gilligan’s Island just popped in my head). Perhaps instructor might be a better way to say it. It will be part of me, but certainly not the whole, not like ‘preacher’ has been.
A song has been going through my mind for several days. It is bigger question than just how do I identify myself. The song is “Who Am I? by Casting Crowns. Yet, it is a song that has helped my put things in perspective this week. Who am I? I am a child of the Most High God; I am a servant of the King, or strive to be. And I am a follower of Jesus, and one who love His church. When Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” I answer “Yes, I do.” What do I do? All the things listed here and so much more. The answer I am becoming comfortable with, though have yet to really experience is “Retired.” Retired to do what God still calls me to do. Retired to go where Jesus wants to send me. I think I will still BE the same person I have been for a while now. I will just be DOING different things. We’ll have to see how this works out.
If you would like to help us along on our Africa adventure, you can donate to the cause at our church website. Just enter other and enter Thackers to Zimbabwe. Thanks.