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.


Hayley Hutchins said...

Basically, yes, all of this. I loved that WSJ article. I was like, yup, circus animal, THAT'S ME.

[Don't read Penelope Trunk on grad school. The day I stumbled across her blog I was looking at a one-year applied linguistics master program in Wales . . . that dream died a bitter death. :P]

And this is part of what I learned at Urbana. I do what I do not for my resume, or my CV, or my soupy ambitions. He loves me! And for that love I risk it all, not because I'm turning tricks for meager rewards but because He's welcomed me into a kingdom vision.

I kind of want to balk at that honor. Like I'm only good at being a teacher's pet. But He loves me! ["And that's it, forever."]

Tunafish said...

Hey, it's been awhile since i've been here. I wish but don't that being too devoted to school was numbered among my qualities requiring a more specific spotlight of attention. But each battle takes place at the right time. I can only say this when I answer to God as my Captain, my King. But holding onto that which has been taken is still acting as a slave. It is good to be able to say I am honored to have been given... all that I have. I only hope to be trustworthy with what He has taught and shown me.

I really liked the Avett Bros reference Hayley... they... are too amazing.

Joanna Rutter said...

You are you. Fearing that your talents and abilities will disappear without someone to praise them is actually a very valid fear, but there's something very off about it...you are "running the race" for God. He is the one cheering you on. No grades or raises, just grace and love. And that's GOT to be enough, because you have nothing nor need nothing else. Love ya!

Art said...

Thanks all for the encouragement! Yup, ditto Tunafish on the Avett Brothers reference.

"No grades or raises, just grace and love." :smile: