By Kurt Schneider
The other day, I told the children here at Riverlawn Christian Church that I was going to be leaving for a six-week sabbatical and was sad to be “abandoning” them. Do you know what they said? “It will be alright, Pastor Kurt.”
It will be alright. Yes, I am saddened about leaving the children and their parents and the staff and everyone else here, even if it is for only six weeks. I love what I do and I love being able to watch people grow spiritually.
But, here is the real issue: Who am I?
You meet someone new and inevitably they will ask “what do you do?”
How do you answer that? I am tempted to say: I ride a bike, I hike, I paddle a canoe, watch movies with my wife, sing praises to God, lead kids in worship, teach the Word . . . and so on. But, you know what I actually answer? You got it: I’m a pastor. We tell people what we do as a job as if that is the whole picture.
Is that really who I am? Is that really what I do?
Who are you? Are you a truck driver? A dentist? A doctor? A clerk? A teller? Is that who you are? Is that all you do? We are so much more than what we do for a job . . . Or in my case, a ministry. Yes, the ministry really is a big part of who I am, but the reason for the ministry must be key to who I really am.
My favorite verse in the bible is 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”
I am a “new creation” in Jesus Christ. I know how easy it is to tell people “yeah, I’m a coach” or “I’m a travel agent.” But that is not who you are. You are a “new creation” in Christ. In fact, God calls us his “masterpiece” in Ephesians 2:10. We are “created in Christ for good works.” That is who we are. In Acts 11:26, we learn that followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch. That is, we are followers of Jesus.
So, that is who we are. We are followers of Jesus. That may be hard or even embarrassing to give as an answer when someone asks you that simple question, “So, what do you do?” But 2 Timothy 2:15 says that we are “approved workman” and that we are “not ashamed.” I am not trying to point a finger at anyone here. When asked what I do, I often say that I am a pastor, hoping it will open a conversation on Jesus. But that is not how I want to do it. I want to start my conversation by saying, “I am a follower of Jesus.” I want to be bold, unashamed.
Opening a conversation with those words may sound a bit heavy to most of us, but I am trying to make a point: We need to be very certain of our faith and not be ashamed to let people know who we are and what we really do – we follow Jesus.
Which brings me back to the sabbatical I am about to take. My purpose, of course, is to rest and refuel. But what I think I am about to learn is that there is more to walking with the Lord than doing ministry at church.
I’m not afraid of that revelation. In fact, I welcome it. I want to be a man that has no qualms at all about sharing the faith I hold so dearly. “Go, make disciples of the nations.” Matthew 28:19. Or maybe just go and spread the gospel to my neighbors; not as Pastor Kurt, but as a good neighbor.