Jul 3, 2006

backstory - part 3

Resumes are dangerous things.

When you put one together, you edit your life down to key events that "prove" you are worth something to somebody in order to do some job so that you can take home some check to buy some things that you will eventually sell at some sale to someone else.

You craft together language that makes it sound as if you are the one who put Wal-Mart on the map or caused sales of Time Magazine to double. Every reference you offer is someone who will say good things about you, especially since you screened them ahead of time by saying, “Dude, if they call you don’t say you work for McDonald’s as someone who checks to see if the fries are done. Instead, say that you are ‘a key inspector of FDA approved food products that affect the public at large in mass quantities.’”

Resumes are dangerous things.

As you look on the internet at Monster.com or cruise through your local classifieds, you do so in full knowledge that other people are in pursuit of the same job. “How dare they?” you think. “I am the one who deserves this job and not someone whose doing this in order to buy an X-Box with their finances. Good grief! I have a family, not to mention a dog with a limp and they want to take away my ability to provide?!?!” So we begin to believe our own press that we are in some way more qualified or in need for employment than someone else. In a sense, it becomes us versus them… and so it’s all about who can schmooze the best way in the quickest timing.

Resumes are dangerous things.

Interestingly, we don't just make our own resumes. When you have a job or serve with someone, you begin to build a little mental resume on them comprised in your own penmanship based on conversations you have here and there with them. Around the water cooler you hear that “Bob” graduated from a noted university while “Sally” never finished college (yet somehow is making more than you). You scribble down in your brain these facts, adding that during the last staff meeting that you have more clever things to say than “Mike” did. These little resumes don’t always show up in your conscious thinking, yet when a critical decision needs to be made and “Bob” or “Sally” or “Mike” gets their way (and you don’t) you begin to articulate all kinds of reasons in your head why their idea is flawed and yours is better. Maybe it’s the way they hope to reach out to more people and you think there’s a superior way to do it… but really, it’s all about resumes.

Resumes are dangerous things.

I’m finding more and more that there are two ways for me to live my life… according to my resume and what I feel I’ve earned or according to my Lord and what he’s asking me to do.

A sense of entitlement... or a sense of grace.

A couple months ago my family and I relocated to Portage, Michigan in order to plant a church with some friends. We went through an evaluation for this through our denomination that left us spinning, for in the last hours of that assessment we had someone share with us why my weaknesses make such an endeavor a “bad move.” Shortly after, though, we were encouraged by our local denominational leaders to go for it if God had put it in our hearts.

Weird journey, eh?

Gets even weirder, for the whole thing made us stop as a family and realize that it may not be the best move for us based on where we are at. Not only that, but there is already a church in our area doing ministry in the spirit we would do it in. We’ve looked into the possibility of joining them to fold our energy and gifts (as well as our junk and weaknesses, because those come, too) into the mix.

So here’s where I’m at on the journey…

- Last week I was struggling to let go of the idea of being a lead pastor. According to my resume, I should be doing that right now. At least, that's what everyone tells me.
Then again… do I live life according to what makes sense to my brain or do I just let God speak and focus on his voice instead of the loudest human one (including my own)? Of course, this also means that I need to die to the way I would do things and simply come alongside to assist the church in becoming the Church. If the foundation is good and its decided that the branch will go in a direction I wouldn’t have thought to be the best way to go, will I let it or will I stand on my "credentials" to argue my way as superior?
- This week I have resolved to follow what I've always believed deep down... that ministry is not about positional authority but relational influence. I really like these people and what they’re doing. Maybe I can even become one of “these people” and that would be sweet... so that our two stories will eventually be a part of one story - His story.
Then again, what does it take to become a part of something versus just being on the outside and supporting it? What is the magical key that unlocks the transformation of “us” versus “them?”
Often when others around you tell you something it can be easy to let their claims be the most prominent – especially when they are people who are closest to us.

We must always let the Lord have the last word.

Resumes are dangerous things.

I love that Jesus had the ultimate resume and yet chose to think of himself as a servant. My favorite example of this beyond the cross is how Satan comes around to tempt him using the title “Son of God” - as if to cater to Jesus' sense of entitlement. Interestingly, Christ responds back by referring to himself as the “Son of Man.” There isn’t a whole lot of direct commentary on this between the the two of them in this passage, for each recognized Jesus was both completely God and completely man. Ironically, he chose to fight Satan through humility instead of through power… or in other words, he chucked his resume out the door and rolled up his sleeves to serve.

Resumes are dangerous things.

Perhaps that's the best way to describe where I am at right now. I'm most interested in serving however the Lord would have me serve, be that in a church or a good old-fashioned regular job. Ironically, I need to use my resume to get in the door of both... but I certainly don't have to rely on it.

When life strips you down you begin to ask questions about who you are. Beware of trying to fill in the holes with your educations, accomplishments, trophies, and references. Instead, follow in the footsteps of the One who became nothing so that we could receive everything.
Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jews were amazed and asked, "How did this man get such learning without having studied?"
Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. (John 7:14-18)


kaitie t. said...

I would like to add an insight, but I cannot think of one...maybe next time...

deborah said...

Good stuff, it isn't easy to do. This is an issue that has been on my mind over the last several months, but as usual, you have said it better.

Anonymous said...

This all reminds me of how influenced we are by humanity. It's cool to see Jesus, throughout the scriptures, in tune with both the "spiritual realm" and the "earthly realms" ... i mean, when Jesus up and walks into the house where the dead girl lay and says "She's not dead, she's asleep" ... the people were like "what!?" and laughed. Jesus said some really wierd junk that seemed SO out of the blue because He was totally in touch with the "spiritual realm" ... He knew that His Father said He would raise the girl.

I totally want to be "in tune" with the "spiritual realm" like that. Resumes are means to accomplish whatever the heck you hear God saying as you are in tune with Him. But beware how dangerous resumes are (as you have said) and how dangerous our means for discerning and judging people so that they don't become greater than just stinkin' being used by God.

Why can't we just listen to the Spirit and do what He leads? Why can't we be ok with that? With being humble, serving and living life to the full?

Anyways... we all know that we are easily entangled in the world and that is why. Well PT, know that i realize you are living for eternal things... unseen things... things THAT WILL LAST FOREVER ... and not for this temporary dot between the trees. your life will be blessed with fullness and rewards that will never be destroyed or even tarnished by this world.

thanks for being an example of what it looks like to make himself nothing and be ok because he has enough faith that the Spirit is leading and in control.

... oh ... and don't forget to have faith in yourself having faith...

White Rabbit said...

Thanks for sharing these thoughts on our "resumes". i have been sending out countless resumes lately, and it definately makes you self-reflect (what am i worth?). As you noted, the answer to this question must be found in Christ, and not our achievments and past experiences.

Katie said...

wow, so that is the backstory

There's a lot of history there, and a lot of unwritten future, and probably a very unknown present, but one thing jumped out at me through it all, and that was the relationships, the people, the hearts of all those in life that you've interacted with . . . ministry might not appear on your resume in the way you think it should or the way others think it should but ministy is written all over your resume, if just by the people that will line up from your life to say you impacted them

Tony Myles said...

I think you hit it, Katie... it's all about relationships. And yet - as White Rabbit pointed out - you definitely start to think of your self-worth. Today I was at an open interview and you could just smell the competition in the air. I even found myself sizing up who the "threats" were and who I trumped because of the way I was dressed or the stats on my resume.

Then it hit me... just pray for these people. So I did... and my attitude changed.

Maybe we'll keep wrestling with it - but the bottom line is that seeing people as people (and not as threats or "idiots" who cut us off in traffic) is a total choice.