While I’ve never been a big fan of self-awareness quests, God sometimes thrusts me into new roles requiring a change of both my perception of myself and the image that I project. A quick Bible word search reveals that I’m not the only person who sometimes struggles with this:
But Moses said to God, “ Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11).
Then David the king went in and sat before the LORD, and he said, “ Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that You have brought me this far?” (2 Samuel 7:18)
“But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You.” (1 Chronicles 29:14)
“But who is able to build a house for Him, for the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain Him? So who am I, that I should build a house for Him, except to burn incense before Him?” (2 Chronicles 2:6)
In each of these quotes, the phrase “Who am I?” can be seen to carry multiple levels of meaning. On the one hand, it reveals humility. Moses, David, and Solomon were each expressing awe at having been chosen by God for the role that had been revealed to them. The question, “Who am I?” expresses a realization that they are unworthy of so high a calling; that they feel honored to have been called to such a role; and that they would have expected God to have called someone else who was better suited to the role.
However, it also reveals some level of uncertainty, reluctance and uncomfortableness with the new role being thrust upon them. Moses even went so far as to adamantly oppose and vigorously argue against God’s choice of himself for the role of leading Israel out of Egypt.
For myself, I have found these mixed emotions, of feeling honored and humbled, yet apprehensive and uncertain, to be common when facing a new role. Fatherhood comes to mind as a specific situation in which I experienced this conflicting mixture of emotional responses. Yet, with parenting I did feel fairly well prepared, because of my experience with younger siblings as infants, as well as nieces and nephews. The bigger challenge came when my darling babies grew to adolescence and presented a whole new host of challenges for which I felt completely unprepared.
Then, later in life, I faced yet another need for evolution of my perception of my parenting role, as I was introduced to step-parenting. Having raised four children of my own, one might think that I was well prepared for step-parenting. Yet, I had a difficult time for the first couple of years, trying to figure out my new role. On the surface, step-parenting appears to be much like parenting, and yet, it is also quite different, in that the child already has an established parenting style not of my own making, and a father living in another household. I have found step-parenting, at least for me, to involve much more of a support role, and much less direct decision-making.
Most recently, I have found myself in this new role as a writer, with which I am still struggling to define myself. In some ways, I would seem to be well prepared for such a role, in that I have a fairly broad background in literature; have made writing an active part of my profession as an engineer, for many years; and have always enjoyed creative writing.
And yet, there is a huge difference between technical writing for internal company documents, trade magazines, and trade journals, which all have well-defined existing readership, as compared to publication for the broad general public, who, for the most part, know nothing of the existence of either me or my writing.
So, I find myself asking, in this new arena of writing and publication, “Who am I?”
For starters, it feels terribly uncomfortable to even call myself a writer. Yes, I realize that the fact that I have published a book and am actively publishing a blog means that I am, in fact, a writer. However, this is not a full-time job for me, nor something at which I plan to earn a living. While I would be open to the idea of guest-blogging or writing Christian magazine articles, I am not currently actively pursuing such ventures, due to lack of available time.
Yet, I have published a book; I am actively publishing a blog; and I am starting to think through ideas for future books. To do these things well, it seems necessary to not only present myself well as a writer, but also to better define where I fit in the arena of Christian publishing.
This website is one example of the need for better definition of roles. The website, itself, does not seem to know what it is. Is it an author site, a book site, or a blog site? It’s sort of hard to tell which. It is also hard to tell what the site is about, even after recognizing it is primarily a blog. It just sort of says, “Hi! I’m Joseph Pote, and this is my website!”
The confusion in presentation is reflective of the fact that, when I started it, I had no idea what I was doing (and am still figuring it out). All the best advice on promoting a new book said that I needed a website, so I registered a domain name, and jumped in, with no clear idea of direction, and no experience in working with website development software.
So, I’ve learned a few things along the way. I’ve learned that promoting a book on the internet is not nearly as simple as it sounds. I’ve learned that although social media may be a powerful marketing tool, people do not respond well to the direct use of social media for self-promotion or even the perception of self-promotion. I’ve learned that social media and blogging is a wonderful way to meet new friends and to interact with other people with shared interests. I’ve also discovered that I really like blogging, and that it is a pretty cool tool for sharing things that God is teaching me.
I’m coming to grips with identifying myself as a writer, though I still see myself more as a hobbyist than a professional. And I’m still struggling to figure out my niche in this industry.
My book has a clearly defined intended audience. In fact, I intentionally titled it such that the title itself, So You are a Believer…Who has been through Divorce… clearly defines the intended audience. If my primary purpose in blogging was to promote the book, then I should write the blog for the same narrowly defined intended audience.
However, neither my intended audience for the blog, nor my intended audience for future book publications is this narrow. In fact, even though the current book is about divorce, many of the principles discussed apply to many more life situations. Several readers who have not experienced divorce have written to tell me the book was very useful to them in the process of healing from other devastating life circumstances. While I was very pleased to hear this, I was not shocked, because the same biblical principles have sustained me through multiple difficult situations.
So, I’m planning to make some changes to this website. You may have already noticed that, as I have learned more about the software, I figured out how to move items out of the main menu into the sidebar menu, and improve the looks of different links.
One of my next steps is deciding on a website title and theme. While I like my own name and the flexibility of being able to say it’s my blog and I can talk about whatever I want to, I also realize that it would be helpful to potential readers if my website design portrayed a more specific theme that better reflects the content topics.
Generally speaking, I intend my posts for believers, although seekers are certainly more than welcome. Also, my posts represent a very specific biblical perspective, that the Bible is the word of God through which He has revealed Himself to mankind. Further, it is my intent to minister, specifically, to people who have lived enough of life in this fallen world to have experienced the pain of shattered dreams, and some level of disillusionment. I hope to draw on both my own personal experiences and a strong biblical background, for this purpose. I also hope to encourage discussion, and expect to continue to learn as well as teach.
Currently, I’m leaning strongly toward the name Redeemed, which anyone who has read my book will recognize as having meaning at multiple levels for me. I like the idea of a single-word name, as well as the meaning that the word Redeemed carries for me. I am a little concerned that the meaning may be less clear to someone landing on my website, for whom the whole new name and theme are necessitated. However, maybe that gives me an opportunity to add a page explaining the meaning, which could actually enhance the overall theme.
What do you think?
Do you have any suggestions for name and theme of this website?
What new roles have you been thrust into, in such a way as to leave you asking “Who am I?”