Feng Shui and Ethanol

One of the fun things about being someone who loves to teach is that you can't help but see metaphors, allegories, and fables in everyday life. Today I found one coming to mind, and I wanted to share it because it speaks quite deeply to the type of person I want to become.

Before that, though, I should share a conversation I had with a friend the other day. We were discussing the way that you express yourself to people… sometimes it can be so frustrating, because you feel like you've misrepresented yourself or have been misunderstood. When that happens, people know you wrongly, and most don't want to be known wrongly.

The conclusion we came to is that, rather than be completely vulnerable –which is hard to do without being a self-centered burden- and rather than lie to people –which gives the wrong impression and makes relationships hard- a person should try to express their VALUES as clearly as possible when they relate to others. If you can clearly communicate what you care about, the value you place on things, and the way you approach life, people will have a framework for knowing you. When you do things wrong, they'll know that it isn't who you really try to be… because they trust your values. When you display unusual passion about something, they'll know you care because it's in line with your values. When someone lies about you, your friends will know it is untrue, because they trust your values. Your life will be an expression of what you love.

Keep that in mind.

The metaphor I wanted to share comes from an episode of, "The West Wing." In it, two presidential candidates have very similar schedules, and you get to see how similar they are as people, even though they're from different parties. Both are giving speeches in the state of Iowa regarding a gasoline additive made from corn products. Both believe that the policy is a bad one. Both spend the entire day arguing with their advisors, who want them to say that the policy is good to get more votes. In both cases, when the speech is about to start, the teleprompter has a speech saying it is a good policy.

In one case, the candidate looks at the teleprompter, hesitates, and then gives the speech, going against his own convictions. He feels terrible the rest of the night.

In the other case, the candidate looks at the teleprompter, hesitates, and then gives a speech detailing why he disagrees with the policy, standing on his convictions. He is likely to lose the state and possibly the election… but he stuck to his guns.

I've been having a hard time thinking about the future lately. On the one hand, I could just stay in the business world, making money, having a family, helping lead the church, and being a good citizen. Nobody would blame me, and some people think it's the best thing for me and for my family.

On the other, I believe God has called me to be a pastor. Getting through seminary and then going into a very uncertain and low-paying profession is a tough prospect. I worry about what impact it could have on my family, or how many people I would need help from to get through. It's a far less certain thing.

At the end, though, it comes down to a question of love and values. What do I value? What do I love?

I want to protect my wife and any kids we may have. I want to provide for them, love them, and nurture them. I even want to give them the most that I can come up with… if I had to choose between two jobs of equal value, I would take the one that pays better so I could give my family more every time. I want my life to show that I care.

The thing is, I love God more. It's hard to say, especially when no one person has impacted my life so fully or so wonderfully as my wife. She's given me everything, and it's hard for me to say that she's the second most important thing to me. It's the case, though. I love God, and I MUST pursue Him and the path He has set out for me. My values and my love dictate nothing less.

So as I face the fearsome choices that hold faithfulness to conviction in the one hand and safety in the other, I find that I must completely throw my trust at God's feet, praying and trusting desperately that he will love and protect my family in a way that I cannot. I have to believe that love for them MEANS love for God, rather than giving in to the temptation that says love for them is love for safety and economic success.

I want my life to express my values… I want it to show what I really care about. God requires a path whose only certainty is faithfulness to Him… it's in His grace and love that I must place the fate and direction of everything else.


Cece said...

Wow Ben, you summed it up so well- values, love, faith...even though they´re important anytime, I can´t believe we all have to make these crucial career choices soon. I pray that God will lead you and everyone else into the path that´s right for us.

amanda said...

I finally read this entry sorry I have been slow to responding I sometimes forget that you post. It was interesting to read.. and understandable but not at the same time. :)