Pastoral Perspectives

WHO ARE YOU?

“My name is Loliro. You can call me Loli.”

“Are you from Philippines, Indonesia, Korea..?”

“Nope, I am an Indian from a state called Nagaland.”

“Then how come you are not black?”

This is how my introduction happens most of the time. A little bit of your background, your country, the clothes you wear, the accent of your speech and then people see you differently. We all grow up having to live with this kind of questions which can be uncomfortable at times.

I once asked a friend how she would like to be introduced. She paused for a moment and said “A student of Singapore Bible College”.

I have the same question for you. Who are you and how would you like to be introduced? At different stages of our lives, our identities change and it is interesting to note how they shape us. Let us visit some of them.

As small children…
A little girl was spotted wearing high heels and lips stick. The media reported that she is the daughter of a famous Hollywood couple. At this stage, our parents play a crucial role in shaping who we are. To find out more about a child, we often have to look at the parents.

As teenagers…
When we were younger, people would want to know our parents but once we are teenagers, we often want to hide our parents! When anyone does something good or bad, the first question often asked is “Whose child is this?” At this stage, we often look for identity through our friends, looks, clothes or even hobbies. So the best way to find out about a teenager is to ask his/her friends.

As adults…
As you grow a bit older, you would be known by the name of the schools and universities you attend. People would want to know what you are studying, where you are studying and when you are going to finish your studies. Just think of the kind of questions you would ask a student when he/she comes home for a holiday.

As senior adults…
Once your job is stabilized, people would know you by your profession as engineers, doctors, pastors, teachers, lecturers and so on. For many, this would be the stage where you would also be known as the husband or wife of so and so. I know this is a challenge for singles but hang in there! The gospel is coming…

As parents…
It’s time to take your kids to the schools and then while filling up the forms, you realize that your child’s name occupies the first column and you are slowly moving away from the lime-light. Your profession does not help much here. Now it is your child’s turn! The teachers will call you Julie’s dad or mum.

As the golden years come…
You have seen your children go to school, graduate, get married and you probably are a grandparent now. Suddenly you realize you are in your sixties. You may retire from your job and then you slip further away from the lime-light. At this point of time, let me ask you once again, “How would you like to be introduced?

If I were to ask you to pick up one identity that describes you in the different stages of life, would that best describe you?  Who are you now?

I had a classmate in his sixties. He was a university professor, a medical doctor, well known and respected, drives a Mercedes, husband of one wife, father of two kids, and grandfather of three toddlers and probably has most things taken care of. Just a few months before his retirement, he said he asked himself “Who am I?” His students would still call him Professor, Doctor or Sir but after his job is taken away, who would he be? “At the end of the day, I simply want to be known as a child of God and that’s my greatest identity”, he said. With that thought, he said that he was ready to retire, as all other titles will be of no value to him. Does not that sound too spiritual? If a person who has come to this stage of life with many accomplishments wants only to be known as a child of God, what does it mean? Does it mean we cannot be doctors, teachers, engineers, lawyers or pastors etc.?

As you read this, probably you are somewhere in one of the stages of life I mentioned earlier. We are all headed somewhere. When you reach the finishing line, who would you like to be? If you have found your identity in Christ as His Child, thank God and bless you! Shakespeare wrote, “All the World’s a Stage” where we play our parts and then die. But the truth is that many of us may not even live to see tomorrow to complete the show. Which part are you playing and what defines you now? The stage is set. For the last time, let me ask you yet once more, “Who are you and how would you like to be introduced?”

There is nothing wrong in achieving your dreams and in doing what you are called to. As Christians, may our accomplishments, titles, status, nationality, race or any other accolades not be the end in itself. As God’s children, may our pursuit of Christlikeness reign supreme in all that we do.

“Jesus came to announce to us that an identity based on success, popularity and power is a false identity- an illusion! Loudly and clearly he says: ‘You are not what the world makes you; but you are children of God.”
― Henri J.M. NouwenHere and Now: Living in the Spirit

Romans 8: 16-17 “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”


Ms Loliro Sani

July 12, 2015