Life is good, hard, hectic, beautiful, joyous, frustrating, exhuasting, energizing, fun, hilarious, blissful, tedious, incredible, etc.

8 11 2007

I’m not sure what to think about life right now.

I’ve got a baby on the way. That’s exciting, to say the least. I love my wife. Every moment with her is just… peaceful. My favorite part of the day is when I get to just be with her.

I’ve got a new job. It’s pretty cool, I suppose. There are some fun people there. And I’ll make good money for what it is – a transitional, part-time job. But, dang, training is not easy. Passing the menu test is definitely doable, just incredibly taxing, stressful, and time consuming.

Class is great. I love Truett. Next to family it’s the best part of being alive. I’ve learned so much and met so many wonderful people. I have truly seen the love of God at this place. But, dang, the work is tedious at times. Dr. Ngan’s assignments make me not like the Bible – I didn’t think that could happen.

Leaving Western Heights has caused a flurry of conflicting emotions. I am sad about leaving my kids, to be sure. I will miss them greatly. I will miss teaching them, hanging out with them; I will miss trying to show them what Jesus is like. But I am surely excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and the newfound freedom on Sundays that I will have.

Life is strange and confusing, really, when you sit back and reflect.

Through it all, may each and every one of us pursue love, joy, peace, faith, and hope. And may God bless those pursuits.


Spiritual Plagiarism

1 11 2007

I am continually impressed with Baylor’s Center for Jewish Studies and its efforts to increase interfaith dialogue. Today at a luncheon in Truett’s Great Hall Susannah Heschel (pictured above), daughter of famous 20th century Jewish Rabbi Abraham Heschel, offered this theological gem (and I paraphrase because I didn’t write it down):

We cannot merely copy the faith of our ancestors – this is spiritual plagiarism.

My regret is that I do not remember her exact words. But the effect of it, I think, remains. We cannot merely do the same things that our mothers and fathers did. We must discover what it means, what it looks like, to practice our faith in our own day and time. We have very different problems to confront, different tasks to undergo. Susannah claimed that we must ask ourselves the questions that Abraham Heschel asked years ago – What does God want me to do? And what does the world need me to do?

For Christians, I think the question becomes – How does Christ want us to follow Him in our context? For me, how do I follow Jesus in Waco, TX in the year 2007? Surely, it looks quite different from someone’s answer in 1907. It is important to learn from and be conversant with the traditions of our ancestors, of course, but this does not mean that we merely copy their actions. We learn both positively and negatively. We progress by implementing the good of the past in new, creative ways, learning from and changing the evil that has been done, and altogether creating new ways to practice our faith in the 21st century and beyond.

Mental Burnout

30 10 2007

I recently went to a session at Truett on burnout sponsored by True Course Ministries. Burnout was described in this way at the session:

Burnout is a cluster of symptoms, including emotional and physical exhaustion, depersonalization or a tendency to withdraw from people, and decreased personal and professional performance.

In this session they talked about the common occurrence of burnout that happens among “helping professions.” This includes teachers, lawyers, doctors, law enforcement, clergy, social work, etc…. Here are a few of the statistics that struck me:

  • 50% of American parents (about to be me) burnout
  • 20% of clergy (me) burnout and never return to ministry (uh-oh)
  • people most prone to burnout are idealists (me) and perfectionists (not me).

Then, to top off the fact that I, myself, am one of those unfortunates who are extremely prone to burnout, they added a list of symptoms of people who are experiencing burnout. They listed mental, physical, and spiritual symptoms. These are the mental symptoms that someone experiencing burnout undergoes…

  • anger (as in a kind of inner anger, not necessarily a “throwing things across the room” kind of anger)
  • cynicism
  • negativism
  • increased irritability
  • sense of helplessness
  • decreased self-esteem
  • sense of hopelessness
  • self doubt
  • apathy
  • difficulty concentrating or paying attention
  • feelings of disenchantment
  • disillusionment
  • disorientation
  • confusion

I read this list and thought, “That looks a lot like me! YAY!” Luckily, I’m not to the point where I’m experiencing any kind of physical symptoms, nor am I experiencing many of the spiritual symptoms that they listed, but undoubtedly, this is cause for concern. Now I’m not on track for depression or anything, nor are any of the ‘symptoms’ that I have severe. But they’re there. I am undergoing burnout.

So, the question becomes, how do I combat burnout?

I don’t know the answer.

Do you have experience with burnout? How did/didn’t you handle it?


23 10 2007

Sometimes the most spiritual and godly thing you can do is stop, lie down, and take a nap.  And so I did.

It was good.