Tuesday, May 9, 2017

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I saw a recent news segment that focused on how we handle social interactions.

It was noted that usually, conversations with a stranger begin with the question:
    
          "What do you do for a living?"  (or "How do you make a living?")

Again, the norm seems to focus on jobs or career -- and really tell us little or nothing about who the person really is.  What if the question asked:

          "How are you spending you life?"  (or "What gives meaning to your life?")

It seems to me that what we do to "make a living" and how we decide to "make a life" can involve quite different issues.

The deeper question ultimately becomes "WHO AM I?"

Some years ago, I was in a workshop with the "free-lance" philosopher Sam Keen.
He asked us to partner with someone in the group we did not know and introduce ourselves by making 5 "I AM" statements. After we finished this exchange, he then told us to now describe to our partner how we are not those 5 statements!

In my experience, we all struggle with the question, "WHO AM I?" and probably never reach a final answer. Even the great Apostle Paul could only answer with a paradox:

      I know that in me...dwelleth no good thing;
for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not. (18)
    
     For the good that I would, I do not;
but the evil which I would not, that I do. (19)
                                                                               {Book of Romans, chapter 7 KJV}

Clearly, I need more patches on my spirituality quilt.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO BE WHEN YOUR GROW UP?

     Some where in our early childhood, most of us were asked, "What are you going to be when you grow up?"

     I don't remember my earliest answers, but eventually I decided I wanted to be a medical doctor. That decision carried me through high school and into college until I acknowledged my aversion to chemistry and the physical sciences. Nonetheless, my desire to help people eventually led me to seminary and an early career as a minister. It was back then that I first developed a sermon entitled:

"WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?"

My main thesis was the insight that this question confuses the meaning of WHAT with WHO, and BEING with DOING. I believed then, and still do, that the pivotal question for our life is:

WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?

     During my childhood back in the 1950's when Dwight Eisenhower was President, the best answer to the question you could give  was to say that you wanted to be President of the United States. But years later in my  ministry, after the downfall of President Nixon and other revelations about earlier presidents, I  was able to observe that doing the job of president was not the same as being a person of good character and high moral values. So the emphasis of my sermon was to ask:  What kind of a person do you want to be? What are the values that you choose to live by?

     I also pointed out that we never finish growing up!

     Now, at age 70, I realize the truth of that statement more than ever. No matter whether we are still working, unemployed, retired, married or single by choice, divorce or death, LIFE keeps happening and we continue to adjust and change. Some of my friends have sought second careers or retired; lost a spouse through death or divorce; and coping with the "empty nest" and/or "downsizing."

     Throughout all these life change events, as we process these transitions, we discover that we, ourselves, continue to change; and the reality is that we never finish "growing up" --until we die.

     Consequently, I believe that the question "Who do you want to be when you grow up?" remains central to our becoming and growing spirituality. As Sue Monk Kidd has written: " our earlier lives aren't wrong, they are just pre-construction, that's all. Our lives are meant to unfold, to evolve, and that's good...It's a process that doesn't really end."