You, Success, & Exams

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

~ John Wooden, English teacher and basketball coach.  Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success  

John Wooden moved success from the realm of comparison with others to a kind of self-awareness or knowledge regarding the effort you have exerted.  Through the application of his view, Wooden became one of the winningest coaches in college basketball history.  He coached teams to ten national basketball championships.

Grades are a product of comparison.  While they are important for some moments and opportunities in life, they have a short shelf life.  Your character will last much longer and will go with you far beyond your university years.  Pursuing your studies for the grade is short-sighted.  Jesus Christ called for a longer view of life when He said, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?  Is anything worth more than your soul?”  (Matthew 16:26 NLT)

You have to be secure.

John Wooden’s definition of success and Jesus’ long-view of life requires an incredible sense of security.  Security is a product of assurance in relationships.  As Wooden grew as a coach, he sought to give a sense of security to his teams by assuring them that he wasn’t looking for wins; he really was looking for them to give their best effort on and off the court.

Assurance of God’s love for you can become a constant in your life.  At Origin, Born for More, we believe Jesus came to show God’s love for us as a reality that we can daily experience.  His love, demonstrated through the Gospel of Jesus, creates lasting security.  In His love, we don’t need to compare ourselves to another.

Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.”  Jesus lived the life of “the beloved” and now invites us to live the same by receiving His love poured out for us through His death on the Cross.  God’s love becomes a constant that makes comparison less powerful and ruling.  Responding to His grace and love doesn’t destroy ambition as some might accuse.  Rather, by trusting in God’s love for you through Jesus, you will possess a security that empowers you to keep growing, keep learning, and actually risk becoming the person God created you to be, no matter “the grade.”

You were made to be loved.

We do hope you succeed on your exams.  But more than that, we hope you will experience God’s love in Christ Jesus as the constant that gives security and shapes your life.

(I wrote this article for our exam care packages that we are delivering this week at UBC.)

A Moral Reckoning

Much of our learning is 20/20.  We do something and then look back a week later, a month, or even years later with the sickening realization that we have fallen into our own pit.  In the pursuit of learning truth, facts are our friends and the stories of our histories are our friends too.  The tragedy of an unexamined life is that we fail to learn or to even take an interest from learning from the data available and the history available.  The tragedy of our human experience may be that we continue to dig pits and then fall into them without learning anything.

I was reminded of this aspect of our human experience as I read this morning from Exodus 20:33-34.  “When a man opens a pit, or when a man digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit shall make restoration.  He shall give money to its owner, and the dead beast shall be his.”  On the surface a reading of the Old Testament social code may sound archaic and outdated to our ears.  However, I believe these pages contain an ethic we need to hear.  If I dig a pit and another is damaged by my neglect or lack of due diligence then I bear some responsibility for their restoration.

As I read the Torah I find a compelling argument for a moral reckoning when it comes to the matters of water, soil, and air.  Our treatment of water, soil, and air matters to God.  Some of our activity may be called immoral.  The  Creation mandate in Genesis is not for the destruction of the Creation but for the just stewardship of Creation as humanity continues to increase in number.  The Genesis account lets us know that enjoying the good blessings contained in Creation will require both rest and work.  The Creation possess a wildness that will require work.  The Creation also possess a blessing from God that requires our rest from work to actually enjoy it with Him and people.

The stuff of earth was never meant to be divorced from our conversation of relationships.  The manner in which we steward the earth has great implications for our relationships with God and people.  Jesus summarized all the Law and The Prophets in these two commands, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”  Matthew 22:34-39  Loving God and loving people requires that we become thoughtful about life and our relationships.  These two commands require repentance and a deepening understanding of God’s provision of grace and power to us through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  But for this article I’m left with this:  the way I handle land, water, and air must be informed by the mandate to love well.

With every word I’m aware that the mandate to love well seems to over simplify the complexity of the land, water and air conversations filling our newspapers and blogs.  However, this simplification is not  necessarily a bad thing.  If we use economic models as our guide we have fewer reasons to move ourselves, our family, our nation, out of the centre and therefore we lack the capacity to choose certain limits for the benefit of others.  If we use the mandate to love well as we steward the Creation then I must be thoughtful and perhaps restrained about the pits I dig.  When I dig a pit I must take due diligence to prevent harm of others.  And if others are harmed by the pit I dig then I must compensate them.

While the Gospel of Jesus does position the followers of Jesus to anticipate His return, we are never excused from the thoughtful application of love to our decisions regarding the stuff of earth and other people.  The myriad of social concerns that arise is dizzying.  As our growing fellowship (Born for More & Origin) at UBC develops I have been delighted to meet followers of Jesus in the University setting who are tackling social concerns with the best knowledge and research available to them while simultaneously seeking to apply love and the Gospel to their decision making processes.  Their passions of study are not divorced from the call to love God and love people.

In Canada we are digging our share of pits.  The ones on the forefront of our news are called out as tarsands, pipelines, mining, Agriculture Land development, logging in watersheds, fishing, energy development, and treaty negotiations.  Its no wonder that British Columbia and Vancouver is the birthplace of Greenpeace.  Yet, I fear that our affection for nature increasingly lacks a developed ethic of love.  And therefore we lack the capacity to help other people come to the discipline required for a moral reckoning and the internal motivation to accept limits as good.

Cold Hard Truth & Dyslexia

I read Kevin O’Leary’s Cold Hold Truth over the holidays.  As to business, money and life, his perspective reminded me of the axiom, “Facts are our friends.”  I most enjoyed the early chapters that explored his family of origin and early influences.  O’Leary faces the challenge of dyslexia and was blessed to have early intervention through the active concern of his mother who accessed care at Montreal’s Children Hospital.  Dr. Sam Rabinovitch and Dr. Margie Golick gave O’Leary both skills and perspectives on dyslexia that helped him harness his strengths and get ahead of his weaknesses.  I believe this early intervention is a huge contributor as to why we know his name and recognize him in Canada today.

O’Leary writes:

It’s no exaggeration to say that enrolling in special education changed my life completely.  To be told that my dyslexia had an upside shifted my perspective on myself and the world around me, and it left me with five very important principles that carried me through the rest of my education, all the way to my MBA and into my business life.

1.  Stick it out through difficulties.  You don’t have to be perfect; you just have to finish.
2.  Stand up for yourself.
3.  Explain what you need, clearly.
4.  Ask questions.
5.  If you don’t understand the answer, ask for a better, clearer explanation.

Margie gave me this list, reminding me again and again that no one else would do these things for me.  I had to do them for myself.  Cold Hard Truth p. 22

Until a child has the means to advocate for themselves parents, teachers and others must do it for them.  Early intervention with dyslexia has proven helpful over and over.  Its important to intervene before the spirit of a child is crushed and they become infected with a resentment that spoils most of their life.  O’Leary goes on to say, “There is a lot of shame when children are told over and over they can’t do something.  These children rarely grow up to be success stories.  Margie Golick removed that shame at the exact right time in my life, before it took root and hampered me, and for that I’ll be forever grateful.  I hope everyone finds his or her Margie.”

Harness the power of art for Vancouver kids

It’s time to vote and spread the word.  Let’s work together to help the staff of Admiral Seymour Elementary and the kids of our inner-city.

The kids of Admiral Seymour Elementary are semi-finalists in the Aviva Community Fund Competition.  The school has proposed to equip a space and enlist an Expresive Art Therapist.

“Our goal is to set up and provide our students with a well equipped therapeutic art room where an Expressive Art Therapist (EXAT) can counsel our emotionally fragile students. EXATs are trained in child centered therapy through the use of drawing, painting, music, dance/movement, storytelling, journaling, sculpting, play, drama etc. We would use the funding to successfully create an inviting, resource filled Therapeutic art room. Any remaining money would be used to top up our Art therapist’s time so that we would have a full time therapist from January 2012 until June 2013. ”

Read more here and vote.

chaplains today

Mark Gali writes of the need for more chaplains:

We find ourselves in an odd period of church history when many people have become so used to large, impersonal institutions that they want that in their church as well. Thus the attraction of megachurches, where people can blend in and not be seen if they want. Many thought leaders who ponder church life naturally end up championing massive institutions and denigrating (inadvertently, to be sure) the healing of hurting souls. And this in a community whose theology is supposedly grounded in the universal and cosmic love of God who gives attention to each of us as individuals.

There may be something else going on as well. A chaplain is a minister in the service of another. A chaplain at a hospital or in the military is clearly not the highest ranking member of the institution, clearly not the person in charge of running things. The chaplain’s job is defined by service—service to the institution’s needs and goals, service to the individuals who come for spiritual help. The chaplain prays for people in distress, administers sacraments to those in need, leads worship for those desperate for God. In short, the chaplain is at the beck and call of those who are hurting for God. He’s not his own man. She is not her own woman. There’s no mistaking a chaplain for an entrepreneurial leader, a catalyst for growth. No, the chaplain is unmistakably a servant.

Read the whole article here.