Tag Archives: Careers

Doing, Being, and Identity

Two Questions

Would you take just a second and think about something? Take a second and think about the following two questions:

  1. “What do you want to be?”
  2. “What do you do?”

When would you ask these questions? I bet I can answer that for you.

The first question (“What do you want to be?“) is one that you would pose to a young child. It would be asked with the qualifier of “when you grow up.” I’ve asked kids this question many, many times, and the answers are always entertaining. Children want to be things like firemen, doctors, cowboys, baseball stars, movie stars, even school bus drivers. Some even want to become the mythical, like super heroes, monsters, or unicorns.

When you ask a child what he wants to be when he grows up, all you are doing is opening up before him a world of possibility – the sky’s the limit. The question doesn’t limit him in any way. On the contrary, it affirms his potential to be anything he wants to be.

The second question (What do you do?) is one that you would likely ask an adult. Think about it, you wouldn’t ask a 10-year-old, “What do you do for a living?” Obviously, the child is just a student and preparing for the riggers of future employment as a “safe space” attorney, not an actual lawyer, or doctor, or super model.

But when you pose this question to an adult, instead of offering him the opportunity to dream big and affirming his ambitions, you cause him to face the here and now, the cold reality, the fact of what his childhood dreams have turned into. Unfortunately, affirming and praising one’s potential is a whole lot easier than affirming one’s present state.

When you ask a child what she wants to be when she grows up there is the possibility her dreams will come true. When you ask someone what he does for a living the answer is what he is doing, not what he is dreaming, and what he is doing might be all he ever does.

Is Doing Being?

I have always struggled with the temptation to find my identity in what I “do.” In other words, I’ve never wanted to just do things, I’ve always prided myself in being things. Do any of you feel the same way?

I have been a pest control technician, an industrial engine builder, a Sunday School teacher, an adjunct professor, a Level I Nuclear Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Technician, a sales manager, an eyeglass maker, an insurance salesman, a preacher, a pastor, a chaplain, a song writer, and an author. Right now I am a school bus driver and driver trainer, along with being a bi-vocational pastor.

No, I wasn’t a pilot. I just flew a lot when I worked in the nuclear field. (circa 1989)

I have always liked name tags, badges, lapel pins, and titles…because they give me identity.

But in reality, honestly, none of those things are really me, are they? They are only what I do. If I were to quit pastoring or driving a bus, would I cease to exist? Of course not! Even if  you were to take away my freedom, I might be labeled an “inmate” or “refugee,” but not even those labels would be me, only the condition of my existence.

Yet, I still find my deepest self wanting to be identified with something, to be known for something, to have a title, to find worth in what I have done or am doing.

I do what I do, but I am what I am. On the other hand, I do what I do because I am what I am. So, what am I to make of it?

What I Am

I am created in the image of Almighty God, so I am intrinsically valuable – my value is based on Who made me.

I am loved beyond measure, first by my Lord Jesus Christ (because He loved us first), then by my family.

I am a child of God, not by my own works, but by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ – that is my identity.

I am a soldier in the army of God, for He called me to serve in battle against the spiritual forces of wickedness in high places.

I am a Christian, because I’ve been given that title as one who identifies with Christ.

I am priceless, because of the price that was paid on the Cross to redeem me.

What I do doesn’t make me a child of God, a saint, or anything of the sort, but what Jesus did for me, on my behalf, thereby crediting those works to my account, is what makes me those things.

And all the things I do – whether it be drive a bus, be a husband, preach a sermon, mow a yard, or be a dad – I do for the sake of the one Who makes me His own, and I do it in His strength.

So, ask me what I do, and no matter what I end up telling you, I will no longer stress over the answer, for what I do is not what I am…

I do what I do because I am what I am, because of the Great I AM; my identity is found in Him.

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Filed under Christianity, Depression, God, self-worth, Uncategorized

Padded Résumés

“Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.” – Proverbs 25:14

Résumés

There are a few things I hate to do in life, such as flossing (but I do it, anyway), hanging blinds, changing diapers, and moving. I also hate writing résumés – about as much as I despise licking a cheese grater.

Résumés (also spelled resumes, but looks like it would sound like re-zooms) are so difficult because of the desire to boast. For those of us who have less to boast about, filling out a résumé can be even more challenging. There is always the temptation to “pad” the résumé with skills not quite developed, like saying you’re a “lion tamer” when all you’ve tamed is your pet cat.

Expectations

The problem with a padded résumé is that while it may get you in the door, it won’t guarantee you can do the job for which you are hired. When employers hire people based on the skills they are supposed to have, the expectation is that the employees use their skills, or “gifts,” when called upon.

Sadly, many people have been let go from high-paying, high-pressure jobs when their “boasting…of a false gift” became evident. Examples include Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson, RadioShack CEO Dave Edmondson, and Notre Dame football coach George O’Leary.

No Water

Even more tragic than being found out is the negative effect lying about one’s abilities can have on others. When Solomon compares boasting about a false gift to clouds without rain, we might imagine thirsty people, or hungry people looking at withering crops. How cruel it would be to promise them water but never deliver!

Don’t be a cloud without water. Don’t boast about gifts and abilities you don’t have. Be the best you can be and live up to the expectations others rightfully have of you.

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Filed under General Observations, Life Lessons, ministry, self-worth

Resigning to Trust My Shepherd

Most of the time I can enter the title of a post before I begin to write it. In this case I don’t know what to call it. All I know to to do is start writing and let things fall into place.

That’s sort of where I am in life, right now; I don’t know where I am going, but I had to get going to find out.

Old News

By the time you read this post, someone in my former congregation will have read aloud my formal resignation as Pastor of Riverside Baptist Church – at least I hope they read it…all of it. It took me a couple of hours to craft it, all 1,026 words worth, and some of the words were painful to write. However, it had to be done.

Themes

In my resignation letter I focused on two main themes. First, it was important to note that the Church, including the local body of believers I pastored, did not belong to any of us; it belongs to Jesus Christ. Secondly, I stressed the importance of effective leadership: both the need to have it, and the willingness to accept it.

If either one is dysfunctional with either party (the pastor or the congregation), tension will grow…even worse, the power of the Holy Spirit will fade.

Feels like…

Therefore, based on several reasons, I had to accept the fact that my leadership was no longer effective, thereby necessitating a change, however painful and scary it may be. Unfortunately, it feels like a divorce (even though I’ve never experienced one). Maybe I could say it feels like a death, but that’s not really true – I have experience that kind of loss many times.

What it does feel like, however, is a missed opportunity…an “Oh, well” moment. I guess that’s why it’s called a “resignation.”

More to Do

Nevertheless, I will share with you the closing words of my resignation letter, for they express something that is more important than anything else – God is still sovereign! He’s got this! None of this caught Him by surprise, for He already has been working to make things new.

If you will remember, the Mission Statement of Riverside is as follows:

Reach the Lost, Rescue the Perishing, and Restore the Wounded for the Glory of God.”

Continue to reach the lost… We will. Endeavor to rescue the perishing… We will. And especially today, seek to restore the wounded, heal divisions, and move forward with grace and forgiveness… We will.

Pray for Us

Please, please, pray for my family and me as we seek to follow God to the next field of service, wherever that may be. Please pray for my former flock that they will find a more suitable shepherd and follow his leading.

Also, please pray that I will be able to put in to practice the lessons I have learned over the last eight years, thereby being able to replace the “missed opportunity” feeling with assurance that all things work together for good, to them that love God and are called according to His purpose.

After all, there are still plenty of lost, perishing, and wounded out there.

 

Now I know how to title this post 🙂

 

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Filed under baptist, Christian Maturity, Christian Unity, Church, Future, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching, the future

Bi-Vocational and Proud

photo (25)

When did I become so AWESOME?

When I became a Bi-Vocational pastor.

 

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Filed under ministry, Preaching

A Given Example

“For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done unto you.” – John 13:15

Every Christian has a particular place of influence. God has chosen to place me within a 33,000 lb. rolling metal box full of children. Sometimes I have wondered “why?” The answer is pretty simple: “For I have given you [as] an example…

In the above verse it was Jesus who was telling his disciples that He was showing them how to act, how to serve. Jesus had just washed their feet in an act of true humility and grace. What was His point? If the King of Glory can be a servant, so can we.

But not only has Jesus set an example for us to follow, He has given each of us the responsibility to be an example. He wants us to do as He has done unto us.

The Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Spirit, told Timothy, “be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Why is it so important to be an example? Because others are always watching.

As a Christian bus driver, I am always being watched. I am being watched by not only students, but also parents, teachers, and co-workers. Because I am being watched, it is important that I mirror the humble example set by Jesus. As a matter of fact, my example in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity, and humility is the only way to witness when I can’t speak openly of my faith.

One thing that may be hard to understand, but should be encouraging, is that no matter where the Christian goes, so also goes the Holy Spirit. It is our very presence that can make a difference in the lives of others when we do the humble, mundane activities of life in a Christ-like way. The lost can “see” Jesus in us. I pray these kids see Jesus in me, even if I’m not allowed to speak of Him.

Each new year I look at all the empty seats and wonder, “Who will sit here?” Every seat represents a soul. Every seat represents an eternal future known only to God. And here, alone in the bus, I ask God to make me an example…one that somehow makes a positive impact on someone now, and for eternity.

Be an example where YOU are.

 

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Filed under Christian Living, the future, Witnessing

The Hard Way

The following comes from a post I wrote for ProverbialThought.com. Even though I wrote this a couple of years ago, nothing has changed; I still see people making poor choices, making things harder than they need to be, and it breaks my heart. Oh, if only we would follow the path of Wisdom!

Proverbs 13:15

“Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.” KJV

“A person with good sense is respected; a treacherous person is headed for destruction.” NLT

 A Hard Life

Every now and then you may encounter people with a look that older than than their age. You may meet a man who is only in his thirties, but looks like he over sixty. A young woman may cross your path that is wrinkled, bent over, and haggard, only to find out that she is 28 years way too old.

What makes people look like they are much older than their chronological age? Hard lives. Lifestyles bent on destruction.

To be fair, there are others that you may see who have been through a lot of pain and suffering due to circumstances beyond their control. These, too, may look older than they actually are. Life has been hard on them. But for many, what they have endured has been the result of a transgressor’s path, and that’s a hard road.

Good Sense

A person that exhibits good sense (“understanding”) is typically a person who takes better care of himself. Good sense says, “Hey, maybe staying up late every night partying until the sun comes up is a bad idea.” Good sense says, “You know, taking that drug might be harmful, not to mention addictive.

Someone with understanding and good sense is also somebody others respect and trust. For example, this type of man or woman is the one who gets the job or promotion. He or she is the one who gets awards and bonuses. They are also the ones who have lower life insurance premiums and rarely have to pay large down payments to purchase anything on credit.

However, the transgressor is the one who nobody really trusts closing the store at night. He’s the one who always calls in sick on Monday morning. Life insurance companies consider him a “high risk” and deny him coverage. And when it comes to buying a house or new car, all he can do is rent.

Advice for the Road

Let me give you some advice. If you are planning on traveling down the “hard road” of life, plan on things never going your way. But don’t think you can blame all of your woes on those with more than you, because they have “understanding;” they can see through your schemes.

Don’t blame the government. Don’t blame the church people. Don’t blame your boss (if you can keep one). Don’t blame anyone for the path that you have chosen.

Also, if you are planning to live a life that transgresses God’s word (His law), don’t blame Him when things don’t go the way you plan. He warned you.

So, when you find yourself living in a run-down motel, remember, Wisdom has been crying out, “You simple people, use good judgment. You foolish people, show some understanding” (Proverbs 8:5 NLT).

When you won’t listen to Wisdom, your way will be hard.

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Filed under Bible Study, General Observations, Life Lessons, wisdom

An Honest Salesman?

The following are some thoughts of mine originally posted at my other blog, Proverbial Thought.

The Proverb

“The thoughts of the righteous [are] right: [but] the counsels of the wicked [are] deceit.” – Proverbs 12:5 KJV

It is not often that I choose to quote another author, but I found the following words instructive.

The plans of the righteous are right.” His designs are well-intentioned and morally sound because the mind of the righteous man is disciplined by wisdom. On the other hand, “the counsels of the wicked are deceit.” Their warped minds invent crooked methods for reaching their goals. To them the end always justifies the means.”*

The Ends

Do you ever stop to think about the “ends?” In other words, do you ever stop to think about the results of your actions, or your thoughts? Do you plan ahead? Do you think about consequences?

The “thoughts of the righteous are right” because the righteous have right hearts. And because of their righteous thoughts, the means to an end matter just as much as the result. They want to do what is right, because it is right.

On the other hand, the wicked think only of self-gratifying goals. As the above quote says, “To them the end always justifies the means.” Because of an unwise, wicked heart, what is right does not matter, only the desired result.

The Means

#8 in the nation! Booyah!

I have known many salesmen over the years. As a matter of fact, I was a pretty successful one, too. And if there was anything that characterized the typical salesman, it was the desire to make a sale, to “close the deal,” even if his “counsel” was a little deceitful.

The problem with many salespeople is that they will tell you whatever you want to hear, even things you don’t, in order to sell a product or service. What the customer needs or can afford is rarely a consideration when sales bonuses and large paychecks are at stake. As long as a dollar can be made, it is thought “the end justifies the means.”

So how do you know when you have met a “righteous” salesman? When he won’t sell you something, even when you think you want it. Happily, I can say I’ve walked away from sales, even when the rent was due; taking advantage of customers was wrong. Even though I might have needed the money, the end did not justify the means.

A Prayer

Dear Lord, give us a righteous heart that thinks right things. Keep us from wicked and deceitful thoughts. Give us a heart for others over the needs of self. Reprove us, Jesus, when we are tempted to deceive, for what waits in the end is anything but gain.

 


*James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms, Old Testament Survey Series (Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co., 1996), Pr 12:2–7.

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