God made each of us unique. Still, there tend to be stereotypes of pastors. They are
middle-class types who wear polo shirts (or Hawaiian shirts), live settled
lives and have no particular distinguishing features. That is not me.
My family background and the diversity of my life experiences
have given a distinct shape of my personality.
Hillbilly Intellectual, Blue-Collar Scholar. I grew up living between a
hillbilly family with frequent trips to West Virginia and my northern education and
personal passion for knowledge. “Normal” for me consisted of
Grandparents with an outhouse and a coal-fired furnace. (I still love the smell of
coal dust and smoke.)
“Normal” was also excelling in academics in a
way that surprised some of my northern teachers. (I was a hillbilly kid, after all.)
I voraciously learn. No subject has ever bored me (Though a few teachers have.).
I graduated from with my BA cum laude in 3 1/2 years. I continually seek to
deepen my knowledge in science, politics, economics, social science, culture, philosphy and
theology. Knowing about other people and places, their history and perspectives forms a
core of who I am. To some extent I can credit my parents for this
My Hillbilly roots keep me grounded in “Blue-Collar” sensibilities.
Im impressed by neither wealth and possessions, nor titles and status. At the same time I
live and think way beyond the parochial bounds of my hillbilly roots.
Cross-Cultural Wanderer. My father liked to wander. Taking his family
north in the great Appalachian migration was only the beginning. By the time I left home
my parents had taken me to see 39 states 7(including Alaska), 4 Canadian
provinces and a lot of diverse life.
In addition my parents were vehemently anti-racist. Though I grew up in a very
white suburb I learned very clearly that everyone of every color and background was
worthy of my respect and attention.
My fathers wanderlust has continued with me. I have now toured all 50 states
(lived in 10 of them) along with Puerto Rico, 10 Canadian Provinces
(and the Yukon) 2 Mexican states, and France. My favorite experiences have
been living in cross-cultural and multi-cultural settings. Honolulu (with
no majority ethnic group) and Federal Way, Washington (where more than
90 languages were spoken) each hold a special place in my heart. I find myself
comfortable being the minority ethnicity and language. My friends and ministry have
spanned the diversity of American life.
Musical Diversity. In my family everyone learned a musical instrument. I chose
the mandolin and grew up playing Blue Grass and listening to Country music. The church
we attended worshiped with southern Gospel music on the piano. My sisters, older than
me, introduced me to the Beatles and Rock music. My tastes continued to grow as I
studied music in High School and early in College. Now my ipod playlist includes
Gregorian Chant, Jazz, Baroque, Rock, Ska, Metal, Classical, Country, Romance, African,
Latin, and blended genres.
Music plays an integral place in my relationship with God. My diversity of music extends
to my personal worship play list. And I often find secular songs about seeking God as
meaningful as classic, traditional, or contemporary Christian music.
Redneck Diversity. When you find me relaxing at home I tend to wear
blue jeans and an “attitude” t-shirt. I always wear harness boots and
western belt buckles. My religious robes are traditional chinese designs. My closet
contains traditional party-wear from India. I wear hats consistently
suede Aussie outback hats. I have found myself in events ranging
from a reception for South African Bishop Desmon Tutu to a funeral at a Biker bar.
(My Harley Davidson 1200 low and my leather duster can be a real asset with the
God's bottom line. God has formed me to cross territory, cultures and
boundaries, and yet remain who I am. I want to know and understand and take the
Love of Jesus into each of these situations. Being a sinner still on the road to completely
following God's will, I eagerly anticipate all the new experiences and lessons God will
bring as I rely on His grace.
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