Posts Tagged ‘purpose’

Who Am I?

Here we are, almost 4 years after stepping through the doors of my current church. Sadly, I “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. More accurately, I haven’t been able to be fully present as myself. I feel constrained to fit in within the boundaries and the borders inherent in traditional church life. Honestly, at times I feel caged. All I want is to be me, to be able express myself in the liberty of the Spirit. As Bruce Lee said, “To me, ultimately, martial arts means honestly expressing yourself.”

Who am I?  Well, at times,  I am a provocateur, who loves to challenge the status quo and stir things up, especially in the midst of dry and rigid formalism and traditions, and shallow and sentimental silliness.

I’m also a philosopher who loves to reflect deeply on ideas and eschews superficial thoughts. I am insatiably curious. I will question everything.

At times I’m a reluctant prophet who is grieved at the current state of the church and longs to call people back to the simplicity that is in Christ.

Other times, I am a poet/painter, yearning for a deeper connection to the people and world around me, longing to be able to express my deepest desires, to paint what is possible here and now—yet knowing that ultimate fulfillment and flourishing awaits the eschaton.

In my better moments, I aspire to shepherd others [1 Tim. 3:1], hoping to function as a failing and faltering pastor-teacher (minus the clericalism) who is burdened to feed the flock with healthy food, to care for them deeply, to protect them, and to lead them beside the still waters. Perhaps those days are past for this tired old soul? Or perhaps because only professionals are recognized as qualified?

Lastly, there is a part of me that shall always be the prodigal: running away from my Father and then crawling back on my knees, begging for forgiveness.

Right now, at this juncture, I feel the church needs to hear the prophetic voice, but alas, “a prophet is not accepted in his hometown” (Luke 4:24; ISV).

“But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord
    or speak in his name,
his word burns in my heart like a fire.
    It’s like a fire in my bones!
I am worn out trying to hold it in!”
– Jer. 20:9 (NLT)

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I recently came across another article of interest to me and my current state of career transition, “Beyond the Self: External Influences in the Career Development Process,” by Ryan Duffy and Bryan Dik (The Career Development Quarterly, Sep 2009).  As implied by the title, the authors explore a number of external factors that affect career decision making, to complement “the influence of an individual’s internal goals, needs, and pursuit of satisfaction”.

Specifically, the authors examine four external influences:

  1. Family expectations and needs
  2. Life circumstances
  3. Spiritual and religious factors
  4. Social service motivation

The first point is certainly a constraining factor in any change of career choice I may make insofar as it impacts work-life balance.  Financial remuneration and retraining costs would also be considerations that relate to this point.

With respect to life circumstances, the authors admit this is a rather broad category that “refers to all of the uncontrollable situations, events, and conditions that occur at an individual and societal level that may constrain career decision making.”  For example, the current economic climate has an obvious bearing on the job market. A change in one’s health status would be another factor that would override any ideal career path one might be envisioning.  While the authors also state that these unpredictable circumstances can be “positive and produce beneficial career outcomes for an individual, such as serendipitous events that lead to better employment”, that generally hasn’t been the case for me, and in any case, one can’t depend on serendipity alone!

I was going to just brush off the third factor as irrelevant but clearly there is something to said for individuals who believe that there is a Divine plan for their lives, including their career which they view as their calling. This sense of an integrated and  transcendent framework for their lives that grants a sense of purpose, mission, and meaning in life would obviously be a powerful motivating and sustaining force. Indeed, the authors note that research has  found “such factors relate positively to desirable career development outcomes such as career decision self-efficacy, career maturity, and job satisfaction”.  Maybe this prodigal son needs to return home …

The last external influence, social service motivation, resonates with me as volunteering has been a very rewarding experience, though I’m not sure I’m quite as altruistic as those whose “desire to serve others may take precedence over other aspects of personal fulfillment.”  At the same time, I have recently considered the possibility of working for not-for-profit organizations that align with my interests and support. Alas, there usually aren’t a lot of openings in these organizations.

At this stage in my life, a desire for growth, purpose and significance are probably the main driving forces behind my restlessness. How to fulfill this desire within the constraints noted here and elsewhere on this blog is still something I’ve not quite figured out yet.

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Unfinished Business

I think the video speaks for itself:

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