I’d like to think that I know who I am. I know a lot about me, what I like to eat, what I like to do with my spare time. I’d also like to think that I know how other people perceive me, but this is where things get a bit tricky. You see, sometimes it feels like I need to be a few different types of people, particularly when it comes to working in ministry.
Parents need to see you as the responsible, detail-oriented minister who will keep their kids safe. They also need to know that they can turn to you when or if something is going on with their child. My students need to see me as someone fun who can relate to them on their level but can also help them grow in their faith. Other church members need you to be a serious minister who steps in at times and can handle very difficult or very complex situations. At times, I must admit to suffering from a ministry induced split personality disorder.
We’re not talking about job expectations for the minister. We’re talking about personality expectations for the minister. Some of the tension is from the outside, but I have a feeling it is more internal than we’d like to think. It is easy to become wrapped up in how others perceive us. Internally we can begin to question if we need to abandon our natural personality and adapt to suit our people’s expectations. In our heads we know that we should just be ourselves, but that isn’t always that easy if we are honest.
How can we be true to ourselves? I think we first need to rediscover who we are and who we want to be. What has God created you to be? Where are you the most comfortable? How can we be true to ourselves and minister to the broadest group of people? When we rediscover who we are, we then need to stop worrying about what people want us to be. Resist the temptation to think that you need to change who you are in order to minister to the people who God has called you to disciple and reach with the Gospel.