?> who am i? | almost an M

who am i?


“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.

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Categories : missiology


  1. kylegoen says:

    So true Almost M. My digital history makes it very difficult to be anyone other than who I am. We decided prior to moving we would be who we have always been, but we would not lead with professional roles and titles.

    We have moved to who we are and what we are about early in conversations with the leading of the Spirit and the questions posed by the new friend. We go from vague response to generic answer to specifics in a short time if the questioner persist. This is has led to some interesting conversation. We have had next level meetings already and early in the process. But, there have been some who have said by their actions we are through with this conversation.

    All that to say, we are not in a sensitive situation politically/geographically/spiritually specifically where we need to be careful. We are always prudent with how we speak and using grace in communicating. But as we were trained, we try to get to Christ early in a conversation without roles and titles we once had in our sending churches or country. We seek to use language that doesn’t carry pre-conceived connotations from the culture they live in presently. It is a delicate situation that each person needs to think through and know how they will respond. Even then it catches off gourd the first, second and third time you are asked “Now why exactly are you here?”

  2. Loved this. Thanks for covering an important aspect of communicating the Gospel via our imperfect selves.

  3. almost says:

    Kyle – thanks for your input on this. I appreciate you sharing for others to be able to learn from you. And yes, it is always good to remember that there is a difference between strategy and Spirit. It is great to see that you are already having opportunities to have further conversations which should begin to lead to meaningful relationships as you share your life with others. BTW – Got to spend time with some of your tribe last week. It was a great time together!

    TheSeminaryWife – thanks for reading and sharing. Also was fun having brief Twitter convos with you last week. Stay in touch!

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