There’s something about context that helps us make sense of the world. I still distinctly remember the discombobulating experience of seeing my grade school teacher at the grocery store—(“Don’t you live in the classroom?”) Some days my work at George Fox feels similarly disorienting, but providing context for the different places in which I serve helps me to remember who I am and to what God has called me in this season of life. Here are a few parts of my context:
The Bauman Stage: I spend a lot of time in Bauman Auditorium. As the associate university pastor of chapel programs, I have schedules to create, speakers to invite, sermons to prepare, and bands to rehearse in order to make our twice-weekly chapel services engaging and worshipful for our students.
The Football Locker Room: As chaplain for the George Fox football team, I get to spend a lot of time with the players and coaching staff. In this role I attend practices and stand on the sidelines during games, sometimes engaging in theological conversations with players, sometimes praying for injured players, and sometimes catching passes while the team warms up. But in the locker room, where we hold weekly Bible studies, we get to explore who God is and how God is working in their lives as student athletes at George Fox.
The Classroom: Every semester I also teach a couple of classes in the College of Christian Studies. From introductory Bible and theology classes to upper division Christian ministry courses, I get to journey alongside students as we seek to learn from and listen to the Holy Spirit.
Maybe you can see why I have a difficult time answering when someone asks “What do you do?” Who am I? Am I a pastor? A professor? A propastor? A pastfessor? It seems I’ve spent so much time trying to figure out the answer to that question that I can sometimes (often?) miss what God is calling me to right now—and that is to be present here, in this moment, right now.
If I’m honest, I too often feel as though none of these categories and contexts are the right “fit.” I worry I might have missed a turn along the way, of having been too concerned about outcomes and incomes and not enough about welcomes.
This is what the Holy Spirit has been saying to me every step of the way—“welcome!” There is no place of arrival in life with God. All along this journey Jesus says to me—to you—welcome! Even though there is more journeying to do, more forming to be done, we are welcome in every context, even the grocery store.
So that’s what I strive to do in my work at Fox: accept the welcome being offered to me by Jesus while also learning to extend the same welcome to those I get to work with every day.