[Saturday morning 22 September] If you are connected with LinkedIn you will regularly receive ‘endorsements’. This means that people in your network indicate they believe you are reasonably good in something. This morning someone sent me such an ‘endorsement’ to confirm that he believes I am good in pastoral theology and church administration. Whether this is true is a bit difficult for myself to say, but, in any case, these are areas where I have been engaged and the person who sent these ‘endorsements’ knows me reasonably well.
Yet, I take this system of ‘endorsements’ with a sizable grain of salt. In the first place, since I take LinkedIn not very serious. It does give some satisfaction to see how many people I actually know around the world and to see and hear from time to time where they are and what these people currently do. By now some 500+ have asked to join my network or have responded to my invitation to do so. But for me as a retired person LinkedIn has very limited practical use. That also applies to these ’endorsements.’
In the second place, I sometimes receive ‘endorsements’ from people who do not really know me well enough to have a good idea whether or not I am reasonably good in the skill they endorse me for. And, in the third place, I get the impression that these ‘endorsements’ present a rather warped picture of me. In the list of special skills that people ascribe to me ‘preaching’ is top of the list, followed by ‘theology’ and ‘religion’. Somewhere close to the bottom of the list are such qualities as ‘church administration’, ‘conflict resolution’ and ‘creative writing’. That is not how I look at myself. I have been quite active in these domains and (I believe) with some success.
Possibly, the cause of this strange listing of ‘endorsements’ is in part to be explained by the fact that people put me in the category of preachers, and ‘preaching’ is what preachers are known for. An additional factor may be that I have never been somewhat ‘hidden’, for majors part of my professional life, in a local church, where people had to listen again and again to my sermons, but have always been operating on the ‘free’ preaching market, in the Netherlands, but also elsewhere. And, as a result, ‘preaching’ may be the most obvious thing for many to say about me.
I find the fact that ‘creative writing’ is not very often mentioned by people who want to ‘endorse’ some quality, somewhat disappointing. I have always thought that I am actually more creative with the written than with the spoken word. But, considering the rather ‘relative’ value of these ‘endorsements’ I will not be too frustrated.
In any case—whether or nor I am reasonably good at it—I have always enjoyed preaching. It is no sacrifice to get in the car on Saturday mornings and to go somewhere for a preaching appointment. It does not only give professional satisfaction to write a new sermon, but preaching also is a main aspect of the ‘calling’ of a minister. This may sound a bit heavy and pious, but it is, after all, a tremendous privilege to get up before a congregation with a message that for them somehow becomes a message from Above.
However, this morning I will not be found in a pulpit. I am by car en route to Florence and have a one-day stop in Monaco. It is a ‘country’ where I have never been before and where there is no Adventist church. But next week I will preach in Florence (Italy) and for the following Saturdays my name is on the roster for Enschede, Haarlem and Gorinchem respectively!
Unfortunately, I will not be present today when two new colleagues (Enrico Karg and Guisele Berkel-Larmonie) are ordained during a special service in The Hague. But maybe I can give a LinkedIn ‘endorsement’ to both for preaching. I have actually heard a sermon of both of them. However: sorry for you, Enrico—I was most impressed by the quality of the sermon of our new female colleague.