Credentials

‘I defined them by their credentials and I hoped that they wouldn’t come to a conclusion based on mine.’

“What are your credentials?”

I was asked this recently at a conference I attended.

‘My credentials?’ I thought.  ‘Uhhhhh…well…hmmmm…’ It was a surprisingly difficult question to summarize an answer to.  Fortunately for me, it was a hypothetical question given by a presenter in front of hundreds of professionals, so I wasn’t on the spot, but what if I were?  What if someone wanted to know why my words had merit, or why my ideas were worthwhile?  What if someone wanted to know my history before they decided to travel with me into the future?  What if ‘who I am’ was a question that could be summed up by a series of facts, stats, and information?

I pulled out a piece of paper and began to scratch out my credentials in a variety of forms.  Here’s what I came up with:

1. The “Baseball Card”

  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 180 lbs
  • Hometown: Pullman, WA
  • Education: BA Degree from Valparaiso University (Theology + Youth and Family Education Ministry)
  • Interests: Sports, Music, Theology, Animals, Exercise
  • Skills: Storytelling, Playing Guitar and Drums, Drawing, Athletic
  • Family: Wife (Kia), Dog (Milton), Mom (Beth), Dad (Dudley), Sisters (Megan and Lindsey), In-Laws (Tim, Marlys, David, Katie, Jimmy, Kelly, Matt, Justin)

2.  The “Book Cover”

  • Nate Nolting is a 34 year old writer originally from Eastern Washington.  He was born in Milwaukee, WI, has been involved in youth ministry and education for 15 years at churches, camps, and schools and has been playing sports since the age of two (give or take a few months).  He enjoys being active, spending most of his time outside, and traveling.  His heart writes from the shores of the Puget Sound where he currently lives with his wife and dog.

3.  The “Trophy Shelf”

  • High School: State Champion Baseball (2001), 4 year 3 sport award (Pullman High School)
  • College: Drummer in the Pep Band, 3 years on the Scout Team for the Women’s Basketball team, Best New Radio Show for “The Nate and Jacob Show”
  • In my 20’s and 30’s: Olympic Distance Triathlon (Loveland, CO), Marathons (Chicago, IL and Seattle, WA), 1/2 Marathon (Spokane, WA, Las Vegas, NV)

I looked at my sheet and the facts were there; a basic summary of my life.  ‘But there’s so much more to me than that!’ I argued with myself.  I have been shaped by the people I’ve encountered, by the experiences I’ve had, and by the places I have been.  I am a convergence of thousands of stories that came together to form my story.

I scanned the room and tried to guess the credentials of those around me.  It was really easy to define people based on a quick list of observations and assumptions.  Without even knowing them, I decided if I liked them or not, if they were fun or not, smart or not, funny or not, attractive or not; I figured out what they like to do, who they like to spend their time with, and what TV shows they would probably watch.  I defined them by their credentials and I hoped that they wouldn’t come to a conclusion based on mine.

We are all complicated individuals created by a loving God.  We are more than facts, stats, and information.  We are really interesting stories that merge together to create a complicated scene that appears to make no sense.

My hope is that I can occasionally make sense of some seemingly meaningless situations.

My goal is to discover a unique perspective in the midst of common chaos.

Thanks for reading.

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