January 6, 2013

Becoming a Slave

"Becoming a slave is easier than you think. . ." [Derek Webb]

A while ago, I read an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal about advice for graduates that no one ever says, based on a book by Charles Wheelan. Here's my favorite:

8. Don't model your life after a circus animal
Performing animals do tricks because their trainers throw them peanuts or small fish for doing so. You should aspire to do better. You will be a friend, a parent, a coach, an employee- and so on. But only in your job will you be explicitly evaluated and rewarded for your performance. Don't let your life decisions be distorted by the fact that your boss is the only one tossing you peanuts. 
In the process of applying to a fellowship (maybe I'll tell you more about it if I'm accepted), I've been asked to write a philosophical statement. So I've been pondering what I value most, and I wonder how and why my life has changed.

Sometimes, when I think of how well I work within the structure of a classroom and under the guidance of a professor, I fear that I am that circus animal. Grades are my peanuts, but so is the pleasure of my teachers, I think. Penelope Trunk (I would need to read more of her posts to give a fair opinion of her) suggests to me that it doesn't evidence maturity to just do things because a professor says so. But, perhaps in trying to abide by her decree of what makes a successful life, I'm performing for her instead. Hmm.

"For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts." [1 Thess 2:3-4]


I do not feel worthy to study
because I suspect that I will not be trustworthy to live it out,
once outside the accountability of my teachers.

I'm scared, but still I trust that all things are possible with God.