October 29, 2010
So today was employee review. One by one each of us had our turn being called into the “office,” asked how we felt things were going, and then told whether or not we were getting a raise based on our work over the past year. I’ll be honest with you, this is a very humbling process. For one thing, the person who conducts this process is from the central office. The only time we see them is on this occasion. Furthermore, when you sit down face to face with the person who hands you your paycheck, and they are about to be brutally honest with you about your work habits, your manners, your attitude, your general demeanor, your quirks, your weaknesses, your strengths, your future, etc., you feel a little bit nervous. If you don’t you’re abnormal.
I could not help but see a spiritual allusion. The day is coming when I will stand before God. I want so badly to hear the words, “Well done, friend.” To be honest with you, thoughts about that day often fill my mind and motivate me to live in a way that pleases him now. After all, he knows everything about me, my thoughts and motivations, my likes and dislikes, my sins and successes.
As I reflected on these things, I John came to mind–one of my all time favorite passages:
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
-1 Jn 4:18
October 22, 2010
These are interesting days to be a banker, especially in light of the notorious Raleigh-bandit who has recently robbed 12 banks in the area. Needless to say we are all on high alert, in fact we have even had a few police escorts as well as regular patrols. Let’s hope this bandit gets caught soon!
October 19, 2010
“The resting is going well because I can rest and write.”
-Maurice Robinson, when asked by his class how he was handling his prescribed rest.
October 19, 2010
One of my favorite parts of a book is the forward, dedication, and introduction. Forwards are great because they often tell you something about the author, about his inspiration for the book, or a personal glimpse behind his motivation for writing, or the conditions under which he completes his work. Dedications are great because they tell you about the people who helped shape the author and therefore the book. And introductions are great because they basically give you the overview of the book so you know the main premises.
In light of my fondness for forwards, that’s why the forward to Dibelius’s commentary on James caught my attention:
Diese auffassung des Jakobus-Briefes als eines Buches der Massenlosungen berührt sich aufs engste mit höchst aktuellen Fragen; um Mißdeutungen vorzubeugen, möchte ich aber ausdrücklich bemerken, daß mir dieses Verständnis der Schrift im wesentlichen schon feststand, als ich längst vor Krieg und Revolution in Jahre 1910 die Bearbeitung übernahm. Die Vollendung des Manuskripts hat sich so lange hinausgezögert, vor allem weil kriegsarbeit mannigfacher Art mich drei Jahre lang von literarischenwissenschaftlicher Tätigkeit fernhielt. Ein wieteres Hindernis bildeten die ungünstigen Arbeitsverhältnisse der Heidelberger Universitäts-Bibliothek in den letzten Wintern. Sie mußte z.B. im Dezember 1917 als einzige deutsche Universitäts-Bibliothek wegen Kohlenmangels geschlossen werden und bis April 1918 geschlossen bleiben, da die für ihre Zwecke gelieferten Kohlen bei ihrer Ankunft in Heidelberg von der Ortskohlenstelle beschlagnahmt wurden” (Dibelius, Jakobus-Briefes, 8).
(This opinion that James is a book of slogans aligns with the most detailed and current questions. In order to avoid misunderstanding, however, I would like to clearly state that I came to this understanding of the letter as I assumed my responsibilities for the revision long before the war and the revolution in 1910. The completion of the manuscript has been so long drawn out, above all because my many wartime duties kept me far from research and writing for three long years. A further hindrance was the working conditions at the Heidelberg university library in the last winter; for example, in December 1917 it was the only German library to be closed due to coal shortages, and it remained closed until April of 1918. The coal that had been delivered for the library was confiscated upon its arrival by the Government agency in charge of coal distribution).
Above all, this quote from the introduction reminds me that everyone, no matter who they may be or what type of work they may be involved in, balances personal issues and works in an imperfect environment. Some may have to juggle more variables than others, and some may have schedules or lives more conducive to certain work. But in the end, we all have challenges that create circumstances. I pray that God keeps me flexible and open to opportunities that come along with those circumstances. It’s interesting to compare Dibelius’s forward with many of the writings of C. S. Lewis. Lewis also did much of his work and writing during wartime. What stands out to me is that Lewis viewed the war, not as an interruption, but as a chance to speak to hurting people and to have even more opportunities for public speaking.
Why am I reflecting on this? Simply to remind myself that whatever the task at hand may be, there are going to be interruptions and challenges. I can face these with joy, knowing that these are nothing new, and that they may even be undercover opportunities to accomplish something greater than all of those pressing demands.
June 29, 2010
I’ve enjoyed some much needed rest this week. Working overtime for the past two weeks, as well as a trip to VA for my sister’s wedding, was quite tiring. This morning I slept in, and when I awoke I supposed it was 8:00 or 8:30. To my surprise it was 10:00. I can’t even remember the last time I slept in that late.
June 14, 2010
In the next two weeks I will be working 140 hours (two 70 hour weeks). So thankful for God’s provision!
June 8, 2010
Adolf Schlatter, meditating on James 2:14, “What good is it if someone says he has faith, but doesn’t have works?” wrote:
Work always seems difficult when set alongside faith. Work is a battle. It arises through overcoming self. It brings me in dangerous proximity to the world. But the slothful and selfish tendency of my heart must not deceive me. There can be no doubt whatsoever that I must act…. What you, gracious God, do for us and to us, needs no help or supplementation…. You give your grace to me in my situation and occupation; you have bestowed on me the privilege of labor. I would be throwing your grace away if I did not do it. O give me, Father, the warm, strong, joyous love that obeys you.
-Adlof Schlatter, Andachten, trans. R. Yarbrough
May 27, 2010
Well, I’m on my way back to work this morning. Work will be quite different this week from usual. Today I will take a brief pause and run into Wake Forest for graduation practice. Tomorrow they have given me the day off, although I do have to work on Saturday.
We will have a good amount of company here, including siblings and parents. I asked everyone if they would be alright with a simple cookout at our house. Hard to beat the ol’ grill.
It will be a weird feeling at work not to have to study in every spare minute I get.
May 24, 2010
This is part 4 of the series “Mastering your Theological Education” (click here for parts 1-3).
For most students, it is not even a question of “Should I work?” but rather, “How much should I work?” and “What kind of work should I find?” This aspect can be one of the most challenging for students, who must somehow work to pay for their education and support their families, while also finding time for their schooling.
My first piece of advice is that you work as much as you can while you’re a student. There is nothing wrong with lots of work and busyness. The more you work while you’re a student, the less likely you are to have to take out school loans. And staying debt free should be your goal while you’re a student. Almost every semester during my time as an M.Div student, my job would offer me the opportunity to work overtime–usually 80 hour weeks. I accepted the offer every time, even though doing so meant missing a whole week of classes. Don’t worry, you’ll find a way to make up your school work.
Hard work while you’re a student trains you for life. Let’s face it, life only gets busier. If you can learn to balance school and work now, you will be better prepared to juggle your responsibilities in the future.
Hard work helps you stay on track as a student, be organized, and make the most of your time. As you work, you will be forced to plan your time. You will shun anything that might threaten to be a time waster.
Those getting a theological education often wonder whether they should seek secular employment or a pastoral position. In my experience, too many jump at the chance to be a pastor without considering the other possibilities. Even if you plan on serving as a pastor the rest of your life, there are several benefits to working a secular job while in school.
First, chances are strong that while you’re a student, you’ll be wrestling through many issues, including Ecclesiology–the doctrine of the church. Working at a secular job will allow you to be more objective and open-minded to what you are learning. Let’s face it, if what you learn in school seems to point out some errors in the way things are done at your local church, and this directly affects your job, you may be quick to justify your own practices and excuse away Scripture. Working a secular job means you will therefore be able to consider both sides more reasonably.
Second, working a secular job will allow you to relate better with those you plan on shepherding one day. Sadly, many pastors become disconnected with the “real world” and seems to live in a quasi “church world.” You know what I’m talking about, the sermons become all about “getting more involved in church,” “giving more to the church,” and on and on. Allowing yourself time to work in a secular job will help you connect better with those you plan on serving and remain down to earth. You will know what it’s like to go to work 40+ hours a week and do a job that you often do not enjoy. You will know the struggles of modeling a Christ-like love to your boss and the temptations to gossip with employees. You will know how hard it can be to drag yourself to church at the end of a long week.
Third, working in a secular job will allow you to observe what goes on in many churches from “the other side of the pulpit.” Think about it, what is it like from the pews? What is it like to come and not really be an integral part, or in the lime-light? Give yourself some time to step down–not just for a week or two–sit among the pews, and really take a long, hard look.
Perhaps one final benefit, especially for you men out there, to working while you’re a student, is the message it communicates to your wife. By doing so, you communicate that will do everything you can to provide. Many theological students rely on the wife’s income, and she becomes the primary bread-winner. This is perfectly understandable considering the circumstances. Nevertheless, I would encourage you to try avoiding this practice. Begin your married life striving for the husband to be the primary provider, and continue this as much as possible, even while a student. Otherwise, exceptions made can then extend beyond the school years.
In the end, your work habits are crucial to your education. Without an income, you will not be able to fund your schooling. Where you choose to find a job will also affect what you “get out of” school. You will not, I think, regret prayerfully considering secular employment while mastering your theological education. Who knows, maybe the lessons you learn as a “layman” may be just as valuable as those in the classroom.
May 11, 2010
So I have a confession, most days my only source of news comes from “Yahoo News.” Two of their articles caught my attention this week. You’ve probably read them too:
The first one was about the worst graduate degrees to pursue (based on the lowest amount of money made). Theology ranked third from the bottom.
The second article was about working long hours. Basically, those who put in overtime with their jobs, working 10-11 hours a day, are at a much greater risk of heart disease than others.
Hmmmm, at this point yahoo is trying to tell me that I will be a student who has no prospects of a big income, but big prospects of serious disease. Thanks!