How do you want to be when you grow up?

“How do you want to be when you grow up?”

I was talking with a couple of high school seniors. They were asking some questions about resources. I like to have context for the recommendations I make. So I asked “How do you want to be when you grow up?”

They looked at me quizzically. “Can you tell me more?”

I could ask “What do you want to be?” But that’s an almost pointless question for a high school senior. Or for a mid-fifties executive pastor. As a high school student, I couldn’t have dreamed of my career steps, from IT to college teaching to pastoring.

When I asked them “how”, I was interested in the kind of souls they want. I’m interested in the kind of character they are pursuing. If they want to be compassionate and passionate, courageous and committed, intelligent and wise, I can make suggestions.

I don’t know what you will be in 10 years. Or in 7 weeks. I do know that we can take steps to consider how we will be. We can work on the habits that will help. We can make commitments to God and to others.

On this day after Ash Wednesday, as you consider the next 46 days til Easter, “How do you want to be?”


This was first written in 2013. I’ve had to add chaplaincy to my list of work, and publishing, and consulting. But I need to think about the how. How have I changed in the last nine years?

That’s a good Lenten question to reflect on.