How do you describe yourself to a new friend during your first extended, getting-to-know-you conversation?
If we are working in a particular field or place at the time, we may start there. If we have family or significant relationships in our lives, we may choose that as our starting point. If we have just moved to a new area, we may describe where we live now or where we grew up.
Like a lot of people, I have often used my work place or my title at work as my starting point in conversation with a new friend, after I told him or her my name of course.
For the last decade and a half of my life, I would have labeled myself as a “Chaplain in an HIV clinic.” I walked side by side with persons who were newly diagnosed with HIV disease, and others who had lived with HIV for more than 20 years. I developed programs, projects, and groups to teach patients and staff, and other people in communities how to create connection with one another during crisis-filled times.
Before I was a “HIV Chaplain,” I would have introduced myself as a “Minister of Pastoral Care” at one church and a “Minister with Singles and Families” at another. I have also been a “Pastor,” a “Pastoral Counselor,” as well as a “Youth Minister.”
I woke up today and realized in relation to work, all my verbs have changed to the past tense. At least for a week anyway, before I take on a new one as “Director of Pastoral Care at a hospital.”
But today I am “title-less.” And this is a good thing to remember, even when I have one.
Because I am not a title, my name is “Malcolm.” No other titles are needed to know who I am.
And there is freedom in living when we remember who we are.
We are enough when we are ourselves.
Who are you?
Nice to meet you.