Hmm, what do I want to be when I grow up?

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, January 12, 2022

When I was a child, the answer I gave to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” varied depending on the day, maybe even the hour.

Some days the answer was an astronaut. I loved playing with rockets and space shuttle toys, reading books and comics about travel to the moon and other worlds.

I tried to memorize constellations and was always excited about eclipses. Trips to the Huntsville Space Center were simply amazing.

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On other days I wanted to be a firefighter, or a law enforcement officer of some kind. It was all about the helmet, badge or chasing bad guys.

Other viable options for my future included cowboy, painter, teacher, builder, writer, president and rock star. As far as I was concerned, there was no reason I couldn’t do it all.

As I got older, my choices narrowed. As I approached graduation from high school, I considered joining the military — especially the Army or Marine Corps. The Army recruiter saw my interest in art and said I could do my physical training in the morning and then go to an air-conditioned job designing recruiting materials. The USMC recruiter said it didn’t matter what I did for the Corps — wearing that uniform, I’d look good doing it.

I opted not to enlist and instead went to college, debating a career in graphic design, teaching English, architecture, advertising or history. I worked toward graphic design and English, then dropped out and worked full time.

When I finally went back to school, I finished my B.A. in “pastoral ministry” at a seminary — “I think you’re the first person we’ve ever had with a minor in art,” the dean told me — and then got my master’s degree in something called “Christian Thought.” It really just means an amalgamation of theology, philosophy, history and apologetics (defense of the faith).

In other words, I got degrees I couldn’t possible use outside of full-time ministerial employment.

I’ve had jobs in sales, editing and writing, art and design, sales, and almost any kind of Christian ministry you can imagine.

I enjoy what I have learned to do, and I enjoy what I get to do now. I get to write for a living. I get to help in ministry opportunities.

I once thought that if I ever made it to my 50s, I’d be financially set and retired and fishing all day, or something. Not that I thought I’d die before age 50 — it just seemed like a very long way away.

It wasn’t.

Now that I have passed the five-decade mile marker in my life, I think (and hope) I’ll have a lot more years to be about the business for which God placed me on this earth. Sometimes that is tied to my occupation, but more often than not it is simply an extension of living life where I am around the people I encounter. I have to make a difference in the name of Jesus where I am.

I love that. I am so glad I get to do it, even though I’m not always good at it.

Even though I know I’m where I’m supposed to be at this moment in time, I still might give you a different answer if you ask me what I want to be when I grow up.

Maybe one day I’ll grow up, and I’ll tell you. But I’ve got to be honest, the idea of being an astronaut still appeals to this overgrown kid.


News editor Brett Campbell can be reached at