I remember being shocked when I returned to campus just six months after I graduated and not being recognized by some students when I stopped by our campus ministry house, where I had been a leader for two years. They were new to the ministry and had no knowledge, or appreciation, of my role there. The same would happen if I were to return to the campus ministry I directed for more than two decades. No one but the staff would have any clue who I was or would appreciate my years of leadership there.
I was thinking about this the other day after one of the elders of my church shared his life story at a men’s breakfast. Up to that point, I had known him only generally as an elder, a retired military officer and a former businessman. I didn’t know many details of his eighty years of life. I certainly didn’t know he had been a combat paratrooper in Viet Nam and nearly lost his life in an ambush. I only knew him as a kind, elderly gentleman and had no appreciation for his past.
As I was pondering this, I thought how easy it is to tie our identities and value to what we are doing in the moment. But what happens when we move on to the next thing in our lives? Only those closest to us will have any memories or appreciation for what we’ve done. For everyone else that we meet will only know us in the present. Almost every university building in the country is named after someone of significance in the history of the particular institution, but almost none of the current students know who these people are or what they did. They are just names and, perhaps, images captured in oil paintings hanging in the lobbies.
When I eventually leave campus ministry and move on to the next thing in my life, my identity with the people I meet will be what I am doing in the present. They might be curious about my past, but my identity with them will be found in the present. Thus, I realize how important it is to hold onto my identity in Christ, to recognize my value is found in the fact that I know the Lord. For my identity as a campus minister will one day come to an end.
Today, recognize your only consistent identity in life will be that of a follower of the Lord. No matter how many times you change jobs or careers, your identity in Christ is the one constant and the most important to maintain.
© Jim Musser 2016