Rethinking Productivity and Vocation

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I am certainly a sucker for productivity blogs, podcasts, and books. I’m sure it feeds into all kinds of aspects of my identity and anxieties, not to mention being a 3 on the Enneagram. While I think that it can be good to set goals and be organized enough to get the key things done you are responsible for, I see the underside of this tendency as well, which can be very much about feeling inadequate, like a failure or that you never measure up. When a life is shaped primarily by what it can produce, then it is bound to get caught in a cycle of scarcity. Inasmuch as productivity is primarily about achieving something outside myself, something I don’t yet have, then getting the carrot at the end of the stick will never be enough.

Instead, how can I begin with my identity, my true self and I am in God outside of how I am shaped by capitalist desires. Thus, I have wondered if, in late capitalism, where it seems like everything is built around personal brands, entrepreneurship, and an achievement mentality, there is any alternative way of thinking about productivity as the highest goal?

If so, this is not so much what I want, but certainly what I need. Continue reading Rethinking Productivity and Vocation

Make Your Own Discernment Flowchart

Back in February, I had the opportunity to travel back to Portland / Camas to speak at Chris Hall’s “Way of the Spirit” spiritual apprentice retreat program. I go to talk about the Bible, talk about discernment, Quakers and be in conversation with retreat goers. Some of the kinds of things I like to do.

While I was there I was reminded of my little discernment flowchart I created last June for my care committee (it’s like a personal support group for people under a particular ministry or calling). The flowchart is a pretty simple, yet fun activity of reflection one can do alone or in a group. So I thought it’d be worth sharing with others, in hopes that you find it useful as well.

Continue reading Make Your Own Discernment Flowchart

Discernment and Remix

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking at George Fox’s Chapel on my talk which was titled Tradition, Quakers and the Resurrection Community. I’ll post it here within the next day or so. In the talk I tell a little of my own story, discuss the idea of remix, and suggest that George Fox was a “DJ” in his own right, and that Quakers today might engage in a little resurrection remix of their own.

Turntable Mix

Continue reading Discernment and Remix

Practicing Discernment Together as a Church

About a month ago we began a Wednesday evening meeting at Camas Friends (the Quaker meeting I pastor). The goal of these meetings are to build our friendships with each other (so we eat together before the class begins), as well as add to our being a learning community. The first book we decided to work through is a book on discernment and is called, Practicing Discernment Together by Lon Fendell, Jan Wood and Bruce Bishop. The book was written by three Quakers here in the Northwest and is a really useful guide and introduction to learning about the practice of discernment. While the book draws heavily on the experience and wisdom of the Quaker tradition, it is not an overly Quaker book in the sense that it is not bogged down with jargon or insider-speak. It would be beneficial for anyone interested in learning more about this topic. And it does seem that there is a growing interest in the Quaker practice of discernment. I have had a lot of people interested in knowing more about the way Quakers make decisions together without voting. Continue reading Practicing Discernment Together as a Church

Faith and The Difficult Process of Discernment

An angel prevents the sacrifice of Isaac.Image via Wikipedia

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

(Hebrews 11:6 NRSV)

Over the last month Emily and I have been working through a major life change question. I was looking at taking a job, which would have meant full-time work, moving out of LA, and slowing down the PhD by a number of years. Emily and I have been thinking that in the next year we’ll be moving, so when this job opportunity came up it seemed like it might be a good fit. But finally, after a very long process of praying and weighing the options, it felt premature to leave Fuller now. Emily’s got a great work situation with teaching 20 hours, a job that helps pay the bills, while allowing us to both have time with L and me to get about 25-30 hours a week of study in. At that pace I should be able to finish my exams by the end of next summer. It wasn’t an easy decision though, and one that weighed heavy on me for quite some time. I thought it’d be good to think out loud about the process of discernment we went through. Continue reading Faith and The Difficult Process of Discernment