Recently, while reading Charles Spurgeon's Lectures to My Students, I came across a line where Spurgeon said that we should see ourselves as ministers of the gospel at all times. Of course I agree with this, the apostle Paul having challenged young Timothy to "preach the gospel at all times." There is never a time when we cease to be either witnesses nor ambassadors for Christ.
But while that is the case, I do believe we need to learn how to wear different hats at different times. Let me explain… For me, among the "hats" that I own and wear are the husband hat, the dad hat, the preacher hat, the counselor hat, and the mow the grass hat, to name a few. That is to say, at different times I do different things and so I often need to put one thing (hat) aside so as to take up something else (a different hat). One cannot really be playing with the kids if one is still bothered by the counselor's hat one was wearing earlier in the day. So, while we are always "ministers of the gospel" there has to be some ability to take off one hat and put on another.
It is a bit like that scene in the film "What About Bob?" (our family's all-time favorite film) when the psychologist Dr. Leo Marvin, who is on vacation with his family, has been led to believe that one of his patients, Bob Wiley, has just committed suicide. After pondering this shocking news for a moment he then says (clapping his hands so as to turn off a bedroom light), "Well, let's not let that ruin our vacation." That may sound incredibly insensitive, but he was right! There was a time to counsel Bob Wiley but at that moment his attention needed to remain with his family, on vacation.
This is not a call to be hypocritical. Rather it is a call to "be all things to all people" (1 Corinthians 9:22). This will require wisdom and discernment, but we believe God has gifted you in these areas and will gift you even further in the years to come. So, as much as you are able, keep the hats separate and don't try wearing multiple hats at the same time.
By His Grace, Doug