The Only Nametag We Really Need

by Rev. Ken Lampe

A dog was sitting in a railway station inside a large crate. Obviously he was supposed to be sent somewhere, but no one put the crate on any of the trains. Finally, one passenger said to a clerk, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sadder dog. What’s the problem?” The clerk replied, “You’d be sad too if you were in his fix. He chewed the tag off his crate, and now we don’t know where he is going.”

In some ways, it sounds like the plight of many people. Sometimes we sit on the platform of life wondering who we are and where we are going. We feel lost and uncertain about ourselves and about life. Or maybe we find ourselves overloaded with tags: husband, father, son, wife, mother, daughter, stepchild, stepparent, breadwinner, coach, boss, employee, best friend or student.

The list is virtually endless and the result is the same. We can find ourselves wearing so many of these tags that we again become confused about who we are and what we should be doing. Fortunately, the Scriptures give us an answer. In 1 John 3:1, we read these words, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.” That’s who we are. That’s our nametag. And that gives purpose and direction to our lives each day.

We are believers in Christ who are called to live our lives to His glory. He expects us to use our talents and gifts for Him. But how do we know what He wants us to do? We can begin by following Jesus’ own example by being in touch with our Father in prayer.

Jesus regularly spent time in prayer with His heavenly Father as He carried out His mission on this earth. In the garden of Gethsemane, He prayed, “Not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39).

Jesus was praying for the strength to carry out the Father’s will. Now it is our turn to be about the business of carrying out the Father’s will in our lives, to allow God to be at work through us to share the message of Christ in our world both through our words and our actions.

Whether we are a fan of Johann Sebastian Bach or not, most of us recognize the unique talent the man had. But apparently he didn’t think it was so special. Bach did so much writing and composing each week that he just tossed many anthems and organ pieces into a closet. Many of these were not discovered until long after his death.

Bach apparently considered much of what he did as unimportant. In fact, when someone remarked about his incredible organ skills, Bach replied, “There is nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right notes at the right time, and the instrument plays itself.” Don’t most of us wish it were that easy? But Bach’s point carries over to who we are and what we are to do as children of God. When we allow ourselves to become His instrument and allow Him to “hit the right notes at the right time” in our lives, great things can happen in our lives, in our congregations and in our communities. When we are in touch with God, seeking His will for our lives, God can use the uniqueness of each of us to carry out His will each day.

And it begins when we recognize who we are. We have a nametag. Each of us is a child of God who is loved by God and who has skills we can use for Him. Every one of us can do something.

As the late Ethel Waters loved to say, “God don’t make no junk.” You are not junk. You are precious to God. God loves you so much that He sent His Son to live and die and rise for you. So, work with God to discover what He wants you to do, and then begin to do it. You are a child of God, and that is the most important nametag any of us will ever have.

About the author: Rev. Ken Lampe is president of the LCMS Mid-South District.

March 2011

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