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Monday, November 28, 2016

To Identity … and Beyond!

It’s been three years since I completed my previous “assignment” at Moody Radio. I’ve now completed two and half years in my new talk role at AM1160. I’ve come to view my work life through the “assignment” paradigm after seeing a providential Hand guiding my days.

It happened when I was 40. My radio career took a departure when I became the Director of Operations at a trade show company in Sacramento. It was very stimulating work, often meeting with leaders in business and government.

One afternoon, as I was in the latter part of my work day, I glanced at my watch and thought to myself…“Okay. Just one more hour and it will be time to go home.” And then it struck me. My work had taken on a certain drudgery factor that I had never felt while in radio. It was a wake up call.

Several weeks later, I was in my car listening to a Christian song on my CD player. Certain lyrics generated a wave of emotion through my soul. It was as if a Higher Power was sending me a message. I was ready to listen.

It came out this way: “If I wanted you in full time ministry, you wouldn’t go.” This jolted my spirit. It was true. Even though I had lived my faith and served in various capacities, the idea of being given to a life of “ministry” was a point of resistance.

I determined then to resolve this with The One who seemed to have inscribed that message in my inner being. I yielded my work life with these words: “I will go anywhere…and do anything for the Kingdom of God. But if You want me somewhere else, You will have to get me there.”

At the time I had just completed year one of a three-year business agreement. It seemed like fulfilling that obligation was my only choice. But something changed.

About two weeks later, a long time friend who had become a station manager for Salem Media Group in Pittsburgh called. He needed a Christian talk show host. He wanted me to apply for the job—knowing my situation was quite good. He did not know of what happened in my car just weeks before.

I began discussions with Salem. Two months later, they offered me the job and I was faced with a dilemma. My agreement held me in place. Unless I was released from that agreement, I would stay in Sacramento.

Graciously, my employer understood my heart’s desire and he gave me that release. We moved to Pittsburgh. I served there for seven years, and my “assignment” ended. My wife and I then pursued some of our own business interests. About two months later I was contacted about a morning host job in Chicago on Moody Radio. There were three candidates. I was selected. I had my new “assignment.”

After 14 and a half years, that assignment ended. I had just turned 62 about a month before. Not a good time of life to be job searching. But opportunities were standing by. And I committed myself to walk the path believing there was another assignment waiting.

It came a few months later. I returned to work with Salem Media Group as an afternoon talk host in Chicago. It’s been 2 and half years of doing what I love most—being on air!

When my job at Moody Radio ended, my blog that week was titled, “Radio is not my identity.” And it’s not. A person’s work should not be allowed to define their value or worth. It’s not good for the soul to allow this to happen. I have other skills and I’ve done other jobs successfully. But they do not define my identity either. My worth is determined by the One who created me. He determines who I really am.

I found two other examples of people who share this view.

J.J. Jansen is a former Notre Dame player now with the Carolina Panthers. He keeps it all in perspective. Before the 2016 Super Bowl, he shared this: “One of the interesting things is this has really been a year where God has been teaching me a lot about my identity as a son of God and a child of God. And all of a sudden you’re thrust into this moment where everyone wants to put you on a pedestal. So it’s really cool that in a year where I felt like God was really taking me through what identity means that suddenly you’re now in a moment where you can easily lose a sense of where you are.”

Likewise a book by professional athlete Tim Tebow titled Shaken was recently released. Tim said, “The reason I titled it Shaken was because in life you’re going to have highs and lows. There are going to be great times, and there are going be tough times.” He noted his life has certainly had both.

Then he added, “I’m so thankful because of my relationship with Jesus Christ and being adopted in the family of God that I don’t have to live the highs and the lows and the roller coaster that the rest of the world lives, because I know where my identity lies. My identity lies as a child of God, and that’s something that will never be shaken.”

Way to go, Tim! He’s out there sharing that message.

Our identity is what we are really about. As spiritual beings, we should embrace personhood as defined by God. In 1 John 4, verses 9-11 we read, “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.” (NLT)

Now THAT is a great life calling! Now, back to my “assignment.”

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app. 

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