The Identity Question: Who Am I?

    January 10, 2024

The Identity Question: Who Am I?
Every pastor and ministry leader is also a person. While people share many common characteristics, there is no one who is exactly like you.
God knows you, even when you are unsure of who you are. It can be unsettling to realize that you have no secrets from God. It can also be deeply reassuring to realize that God knows you completely and yet he loves you anyway!
We long to be known by others. Thanks to social media, our lives are more fully on display than ever before, and yet at the same time, we are more isolated and lonely than ever before. Christianity teaches that we are created to live in relationship with God, to be known by him. Augustine wrote in his Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you” (1.1). Bono puts that deep longing this way: “You broke the bonds and you loosened the chains / You carried the cross of my shame / Oh my shame / You know I believe it / But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” (U2 1987). To know that God knows us and that we belong to him satisfies the deepest longings of the human soul.
The German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) was imprisoned and finally executed during World War II for his role in a failed plot to assassinate Hitler. His captivity led him to examine this most fundamental question of personal identity. Sorting through his doubts, fears, and even shame, Bonhoeffer found comfort and strength in the midst of his confusion from the fact that God knows him. This conviction is reflected powerfully in his poem “Who Am I?”
As you make your way through the D.Min. program, you will probably experience all kinds of doubts, fears, and questions. There are two things to keep in mind when facing such doubts. First, it is important to remember that doubts are not a sign of lack of faith in God; rather they signify the restless of our hearts and minds that we experience until we find complete rest in the presence of God. Second, keep in mind that you are not alone. You aren’t the first to experience such restlessness, and there are likely others in your cohort who are asking the same kinds of questions. Your program director and professors are familiar with this process; you can count on them to listen sympathetically and offer wisdom and guidance.
Who Am I?
As per Dietrich Bonhoeffer, (2010):
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Letters and Papers from Prison, edited by Eberhard Bethge. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010.

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