I was out for a walk one day, and I started thinking about 3 simple words: Who and Where and Who. I know, I know, that’s only 2 words; but for me, those 2 words refer to 3 different things. And I find those 3 things helpful in reminding me about one more word: What. As in: What should I be doing? What should my life be about? For me, to get to What, I need to start with Who/Where/Who. Let me explain.
First, Who. The key to knowing What I need to be doing doesn’t actually start with the What, but the Who. Before you accuse me of starting an Abbott & Costello routine, here’s what I mean: Who I am is fundamental to knowing how I should live. If I’m going to assess What I Do, I’ve first got to know Who I Am. Remembering that I am a child of God, a follower of Jesus, grounds my identity and purpose in the One who made me.
Who I claim to be should guide how I live. Whether I’m a plumber or a pastor or a parent, an accountant or an actor, a student or a retiree – my Who shapes my self-understanding, leading me to make choices and live my life, faithful to the person I say I am.
The Who then leads to Where. Knowing Who I am, I can then look around to see Where I am. Where does life/God have me right now? What job? What neighborhood? What church? What situation in life? What opportunities? What gifts? What abilities? Looking at the Where gives me some really good insight into how I’m being called to live out my Who.
So often, we find ourselves wishing for a different Where. We think we would serve God better somewhere else, doing something else. We dream of great opportunities or different locations or circumstances which would help us do a better job of following God – or simply make life more enjoyable. But often the best thing we can do right now is love the Where, where we are. New Wheres can definitely come our way – but often they do so when we are in the midst of faithfully serving where we are.
My two most recent opportunities to serve in church ministry have come after I simply joined the church as a “regular Joe” and started serving. At the right time, being a part of the church opened a door to serve as a part of the staff. It happened in 2001. It happened again this week – as I began Monday serving as engagement minister at Westport Road Church of Christ. My wife and I have been here nearly 2 years, and now we begin a new chapter – where our Where goes from a volunteer opportunity to a paid one. Even though my Where has changed, my Who hasn’t. Knowing Who I am in Christ simply redirects me to serving in a different way.
Which leads me to my 2nd Who. Knowing Who I am and Where I am, I then can look around and see Who is a part of my life. Getting insight into the Who & Where, I then see Who I’m called to love. For me, it starts with my wife and kids, and the season they are in. It reaches out to the new role I’ve taken, and the people God has given me to serve alongside here at WRCC. It also includes my neighbors where I’ve lived for 24 years (especially the kids who find their way over to our yard to play or talk). It’s my parents, my extended family, and the handful of friends I do life with. And, of course, as I live my life in my Where, new people will come my way that God is inviting me to love and to serve.
For when I know Who I am and Where I am, I shouldn’t be surprised when new Whos come along (though probably not named Cindy Lou). Because, as it turns out, when I stay grounded in the Who/Where/Who of my life — then Who I am reminds me to be Where I am with Who I’m with.
Perhaps this is God’s will for all of us. To know Who we are in Him. To be faithful Where He has us – for as long as He has us there. And then to love the Whos around us.
And perhaps the What of our life is as simple, and as challenging, as that.