Coping With Forgetfulness

When I first came to Seoul Baptist, people were impressed because I called them by their names, even though I had only met them briefly when I was invited as a revival speaker.

I was able to remember their names because I made a conscientious effort. When I decided to accept their invitation to become the senior pastor of Seoul Baptist, I asked the church to mail me their monthly newsletter and memorized the names that appeared on it.

God knows our names. He loves and values each of us individually. Likewise, I want to know each of our church members and remember their names. But this gets harder as I get older.

It takes me about 2 to 3 weeks for me to match names with faces for the members of the New Life Bible class. But it takes much more effort than before. When I was younger, I only needed to hear someone’s name once before I remembered it but now, I have to work hard to memorize it. I also forget most of the names I’ve memorized after the class is over.

Because of my forgetfulness, I worried that I had Alzheimer’s Disease. But I now take my forgetfulness as a natural consequence of getting old. When I see someone whose face is familiar but can’t recall the name, I simply say, “I’m sorry. I forgot your name. What is it again?”

Instead of lamenting my memory loss, I devise means to help me remember things so that I don’t become a nuisance to people around me. When I think of something I have to do, I immediately write it down. I keep my laptop within arm’s reach when I pray in the morning and when a ministry idea comes to my mind I stop praying, open my laptop. and record it immediately. When I make appointments, I enter it in my calendar right away, and I check it first thing in the morning. I review my inbox every Monday and make sure I haven’t forgotten to respond to any emails.

So far, my memory loss hasn’t hampered my work thanks to many friends who have helped me remember things – they’ve been my supplementary brain. Brother Kwang Woo Park managed my entire travel schedule and makes sure I get to the airport on time. Sister Ji Sun Park and Yun Sook Baik take care of my church calendar and make sure I don’t forget church activities. My wife takes care of all the household chores so that I can focus on ministry. These are people I cannot live without and to whom I am truly grateful.

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