who am i?By
“Who am I?” and “Who do you think I am?” This seemingly innocuous issue seems to minimize and sideline an inordinate number of would-be missionaries and ministers. Identity is something that has been thought about, debated over and written on copiously over the centuries. The Greek maxim on this account, “know thyself” illustrates the importance and difficulty of settling this point.
I have spoken with pastors that share they don’t want their neighbors to find out what they do early in the relationship as it will impact the direction the conversation goes–or keep it from going anywhere. When pursuing an incarnational presence as profession in a missionary context, the questions and conversations can become even more bizarre. Not having the conversation makes this even worse as nationals can only speculate as to what secret governmental agency someone who simply studies language for x number of years could possibly be doing living in their country.
When entering a new context, a person needs to be prepared to answer the inevitable questions that point to who are you? The inquiries may be in various forms such as: What do you do?; Where are you from?; Where do your kids go to school?; What are your interests?; etc. This question will largely be informed by who have you been. Some may push for the opportunity or right to erase a person’s digital history–good luck with that. In the digital world, who you have been will lead to conclusions of who you are or what you may still be about.
It has often been said that “the way you go in is the way you stay on.” Identity should be dealt with even before early in the process. Communication in this area needs to fit who you were, who you are and who you are seeking to become. Your story is so much of your gospel presentation…those committed to modeling the presence of Christ must seek to tell it in a way that is both credible and understandable.