Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Are our gain, work, growth, and successes all his?

Of the chapters of the Tao Te Ching that I have worked on, the second one challenges me spiritually the most.

Clearly my gain, work, growth, and successes are not all Yeshua's. How does it matter that I put forth effort towards non-eternal things?

I try to keep my home tidy and my yard nice. These chores have no trouble reminding me of their ephemeral nature. Doing laundry, washing dishes, and sweeping the front steps are all necessary work unrelated to my relationship with Yeshua.

I try to be an effective math teacher and improve my teaching. Clearly Yeshua's pedagogical style is not appropriate for a community college remedial math class. This work and growth and success are very different from his, and of no eternal benefit.

I try to exercise a lot. I like being in good shape. I enjoy biking and skateboarding when I can do these instead of driving. But this also has a benefit that is not eternal. Similarly, I have hobbies I use to relax, such as my new dabbling in Chinese brush painting.

In most other things I can claim to be trying to have my gain, work, growth, and successes be Yeshua's. The best way I know to become a better minister or better husband or better friend is to become more like Yeshua and do these as he would.

My challenge is to not get emotionally wrapped up in success or failure of non-eternal issues.

For example, I am happy with what I learned about math teaching last term, but paid far too much attention to this. I went beyond noticing what was helping certain students and figuring out how to best put more of that into my class, and began to stress about it. The stress did not help my students or myself. (No, I don't think my students noticed my stressing out.)

In contrast, as I am starting to learn skateboarding and Chinese brush painting I am carefully choosing to not care if I ever do well in these activities. They are for relaxing (and exercise), and as effective whether I remain a novice or gain in ability. And my wife can attest how much I have become less of a neat freak at home.