The reason why first impressions are so important is because we only get one—one shot to make a good first impression on people. So, here it is, our first impression to the people at Saint James…our family photo.
When I was asked to provide an updated picture of our family to share with Saint James, I asked my wife, Verna (the keeper of all the important family photos), to send me one that she had. This is the one she sent. For the most part, it looks great. The outfits match. Everyone’s hair looks fine. The setting speaks to our Minnesota ethos of pride in the great outdoors. Verna looks beautiful and confident in our family. Avery, our oldest son looks happy and welcoming. Jonah, sitting next to Verna on her right, looks content and relaxed. Simon, the one standing between Avery and myself, looks as handsome as any 9 year old boy. Sage, our only daughter, looks cute.
And then there is me. I’m thankful for this family that God has given me. I’m thankful for Verna’s eye in coordinating our outfits to match for this photo. I’m just not too crazy about my smile. I feel I can do better. Now, I’ve made it worse by calling attention to it. You probably didn’t think anything about it, until I mentioned it in this article. Perhaps I’m being too self critical. But after all, this may be your first impression of me.
Jesus famously told His disciples that they would be His witnesses (Luke 24:48). That is what a follower of Jesus does, bear witness to what Christ has done in their lives. I have observed over the years that Christians sometimes shy away from giving a witness of their faith. Perhaps it is because we are painfully aware of our imperfections, I have a crooked smile…I have a hard time controlling my temper…I don’t like to be around people I don’t know, etc. Jesus is aware of our perceived imperfections, just as He was aware of the imperfections of those first disciples…and yet He told them that they would be His witnesses. Maybe the person we witness to is also self conscious of their crooked smile…or has a hard time with their temper…or struggles being around people they don’t know. Yet, through our witness, they too could know the love Christ has for imperfect people. Wouldn’t that be a great first impression?
~ Pastor Tom Volker
Call Acceptance Letter from Pastor Tom Volker
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
After seeking the will of God through His word, through personal prayer and through consultation with His people, I have decided to accept the call to Saint James Lutheran Church as one of your pastors.
I am excited to share this news with you. Our family is looking forward to getting to know all of you. I am looking forward to working with the Body of Christ at Saint James in tackling your challenges and in sharing your joys. I believe that the gifts that God has given me and has developed in me during my years of pastoral ministry will benefit the ministry at Saint James…however only time will tell.
Please continue to pray for me during this time of transition. Please also hold Mt. Zion and St. James in South Minneapolis in your prayers as they begin the process of calling a different pastor to serve them.
Peace be with you,
Pastor Tom Volker