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Dentists, Doctors, Insurance, Leadership, and Theology

Liora (565268) writes | more than 10 years ago

User Journal 12

This is going to be one of those sort of rambling JE's, because I'm putting things down just as I'm thinking about them, which will likely yield a less than cohesive set of thoughts.

This is going to be one of those sort of rambling JE's, because I'm putting things down just as I'm thinking about them, which will likely yield a less than cohesive set of thoughts.

I went to the dentist this morning. My teeth and gums were pretty much perfect to begin with, and the hygeinist did a good job, so they're even cleaner and polished and swell. They did bite wing X-rays, which revealed I have a cavity between two of the back teeth. So I get to go back on Monday for them to take care of it.

I went to the doctor last week. I have been having problems with a lot of fluid in my throat and lungs, which collects in the night and wakes me up because I can't breathe and need to sit up in bed and cough for a while. They told me I have bronchitis of the trachea, and they gave me an antibiotic, which I am taking, and which appears to be helping. Nothing's perfect yet, but I'm not waking up at night anymore.

Last week Shimmin and I went to my insurance guy to get his car insurance transferred over to all one thing, and we made an appointment for Thursday to have an insurance checkup. This will be where Tom (my insurance guy) looks at us and our finances and our lives and our ages and the health/life/liability insurance policies that we already have, and asks us questions about our futures, where we want to be, what we want to do, how we want to plan our lives, and then makes suggestions about how much life insurance we need to acquire, if any (well, we know we need to get Shimmin some), etc. And so we have that to look forward to, especially that while I am a fairly risk-averse person, I truly dislike spending too much money on warding against potential disasters, etc.

So... all of these things have got me thinking. I went to the dentist for a checkup. Why do I go for checkups? Because it is good to get one's teeth cleaned and looked at, and if I do have any cavities, they are caught and taken care of before I ever even know about them and never feel pain as a result of them. But yet, I don't go to the doctor for physicals. I go when I'm sick, and hope that if there's anything wrong with me that I don't already know about, they'll catch it via the few vital signs tests the nurse takes at the beginning. Also, although I've never been to an insurance/financial checkup before, I figure they are probably good to do occasionally, not necessarily so I can do all the stuff the guy recommends, but so that I can at least think about it, and it at least gets the ball going in my head for planning about my future. In general, checkups are a good idea. Tuneups are good for the car, oil changes are good more frequently than that, etc. Planning is a good thing.

I am beginning my final semester of the advanced leadership training program at church. During the past 1.5 years I've been able to wander through various jobs and service requirements at church to see what it is that I like, what it is that the church needs, and what it is that I am good at. I've also acquired more permanent responsibilities than I previously had; the service requirements are temporary, but sometimes you find that doing something isn't that much trouble, or is something you like, or both, and you hold on to it. When I started I was teaching the 3's every other Sunday during the 10:00 service, leading a small group, and singing with the worship team every third week or so at the young adult service. Now I am still doing all of that, and I am also helping greet guests after the service in a little nook we call the guest cafe, making them feel welcome, introducing them to the pastors, and telling them a little bit about our church. I also lead a corporate prayer/worship event for the young adults on the first Friday of every month.

I've had the opportunity to hand out bulletins, teach kindergarteners, pray for people taking the Learning to Minister Like Jesus class, cook food for 150 people, make coffee for more, volunteer at various local mission agencies, lead discussion groups for adult classes, raise up new interns in a small group and hand it over to them as leaders, change oil for single moms/widows, lead a discussion group for Christians and non-Christians in a local bar, pray for people after services, and all kinds of other stuff that I can't even remember.

So here's what I want to know: Where's the checkup? Where's the time when I sit down with a leader and figure out where I am, what I've been doing, what I'm good at, what my goals are, etc? I mean, you don't go through a degree program without some type of course or career counselling, you don't go for years without going to the dentist, and yet we seem to be missing the point spiritually, the same way that we don't get the memo on how to take care of ourselves by eating not to many calories, exercising regularly, and not smoking? I feel lost, like there's something I'm missing. This class is gonna end in May, and I'm going to have done a lot of service, have figured out a lot of things about myself, have completed the equivalent of spiritual basic training, and yet have no marching orders.

We want to plant a church. We don't know where, we don't know with whom. We know that it is likely going to happen when Shimmin finishes his PhD. I need skills before then. I need to learn SO MUCH. I need public speaking skills, skills teaching adults, not just 3 year olds, writing skills, reading skills. I need to learn things about Christian counselling, how to lead larger groups of adults than are just in our small group, how to build a leadership team, etc. I guess i'm just needy, because I could go on forever.

I'm so confused. Here's what I do know. There are people that I'm discipling that probably need this kind of guidance as much as I do, and I've already been where they are, so I know what their options are, and where they can get training, and how they can experiment and figure out how they're gifted to serve. I'm going to go to the insurance checkup on Thursday and pay very close attention to how Tom does it, and learn what goes into that kind of planning, how to stimulate thoughtful and insightful responses from the people you're dealing with, and figure it all out, and then figure out how to apply that stuff to the people that Shimmin and I are working with. Even if we can't get that kind of help, we have an obligation to lead the people we're already leading through it. Minus the method for selling life insurance, that is.

12 comments

Ahhhh (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964720)

? I mean, you don't go through a degree program without some type of course or career counselling,

Ahh! You obviously didn't go to the same University as me! Both undergrad and Masters were an experience in neglect. Infact, its this very attitude of neglect that has made me into the superior individual that I am. So I guess I have to thank them. As an alumni, I will continue to show my appreciation my returning the favor. You want some money for some new university program? Get it your own got-damned selves! You'll never get a penny out of me.

Re:Ahhhh (1)

Liora (565268) | more than 10 years ago | (#7965188)

Yeah, I sort of noticed that at my alma mater too, but at least there are like course catalogs and programs and stuff that can guide you through to graduation (supposedly). Now, getting a job after college was another situation entirely, but such is life. Oh, and we did have to meet with an advisor occasionally.

Well, maybe I shall turn into the same sort of "superior individual" or something. Meh.

Re:Ahhhh (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 10 years ago | (#7965403)

Well, maybe I shall turn into the same sort of "superior individual" or something.

Seems like thats the next logical step for you. From what you write, it sounds like you've had quite a bit of training. Now you need some experience without a net?

so do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7965507)

maybe you should get a spiritual check up- there are all kinds of people. heck you even have a father-in-law that could do that.
-ew

(cla-click) Ahhhhh! (1)

robi2106 (464558) | more than 10 years ago | (#7965700)

As the light bulb goes on in my head...

You have brought up a very interesting point. Why aren't there spiritual checkups now days? I kind of have that with a pastor at my church. However, it has been months (usually isn't more than a few weeks) because both he and I have gotten busy.

Accountability and close mentoring relationships seem to be best suited for these sort of interatcions, in my opinion. At the church I go to, two houses were formed, one for the men, and then after the prrof-of-concept stage, one for the women. The house held 5-9 people. The pastor would meet weekly with the guys to talk about a few specific topics or anything on anyones mind. This was a great environment to develop.

Any sort of relationship formed for this purpose has the potential to get lax in the responsibilities of those involved. It was always rewarding but sometimes hard.

My situation is quite different from your own, but suggestions I have would be to get with an older couple who either experienced what you hope to do, or find one through references.

jason

Re:(cla-click) Ahhhhh! (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 10 years ago | (#7986746)

If you're a Catholic, there are spiritual checkups: the sacrament of reconciliation, aka Confession. Despite the portrayal in the media, it isn't really just about reciting your laundry list of sins and getting a few hail mary's penance (well, if you insist on doing it that way, most priests will oblige, but it doesn't have to be). Of course I'm no longer a Catholic, and haven't considered myself such for a very long time, so I can't speak authoritatively on this, but I haven't heard anything from my parents to indicate Church doctrine has changed much on this point from when I was active.

Re:(cla-click) Ahhhhh! (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 10 years ago | (#7986784)

I should have been more clear I suppose; my no longer Catholicism is not specifically about the Catholic Church but rather about all forms of organized Christianity. However, this is not the place or time to get into that discussion....

Re:(cla-click) Ahhhhh! (1)

robi2106 (464558) | more than 10 years ago | (#7987339)

When is it not a good time or place? Amoung the topics mentioned in the title of this JE was theology, and assuming Liroa does not mind, then why not?

I am always interested in people's experience with my religion. Especially as it relates to bad experiences and problems / questions.

jason

Re:(cla-click) Ahhhhh! (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 10 years ago | (#7989128)

It's not a good time or place because I have some deep wells of anger and bitterness that I don't want to subject to someone else's journal. I have enough objectivity to be able to keep myself above that fray most of the time, but if we start delving into my own history I don't want to 1) get into any of that anger directly or 2) get into any sort of "pissing match" with someone who thinks they can bring me back to the Church despite my current desire not to go there. As I mentioned in just previous reply, I see more and more places where this puts a wall around what I want to say sometimes, so I'm debating creating an entry in my own journal to talk about it, but again, we'll see. It will take a lot of thought to do well.

Re:(cla-click) Ahhhhh! (1)

robi2106 (464558) | more than 10 years ago | (#7989563)

thinks they can bring me back to the Church
I have no such thoughts or intentions. It would be nice, but I fully realize that my talents and gifts have nothing to do with evangalism.

I completely understand your desire to not let the past bring out unpleasant conversations, or witing that is not properly thought out.

You just got friended, so I'll know when or if you do broach the subject.

jason

Re:(cla-click) Ahhhhh! (1)

Liora (565268) | more than 10 years ago | (#7987812)

Hah! I sympathize... I'm a pretty disorganized Christian myself....

Your point is really fascinating! I'm not Catholic myself, nor was I raised in the Catholic Church, but it seems really interesting to me that one of the seven sacraments they recognize really is essentially a spiritual checkup. Wow. I had never thought of it that way before.

I think though that in that instance, the distinct line between the clergy and the parishoners in a Catholic congregation sort of takes away one of the major goals I would have in a spiritual checkup, namely spiritual maturity. I am of the opinion that spiritual maturity and spiritual leadership are intricately linked - in my opinion part of growing up in our faith is believing it and maturing enough to practice it, and then a step beyond that is taking responsibility for others' spiritual maturity - leading them. So unless you happen to feel called to Orders rather than Marriage, in the Catholic Church, the spiritual checkup of Reconciliation is unlikely to result in a spiritual growth roadmap that would follow that sort of path.

Wow. I just gained another sort of perspective too. The absense of a spiritual responsibility step (well, beyond parenting/God-parenting) explains why a lot of Catholics step away from their faith, or despite a deep ingrained faith, sometimes do not show any outward signs of it. In some of them, the lack of that step might lead to maturity to a certain point, and then spiritual stagnation. In fact, much of the outward signs of my inward faith didn't really begin to emerge until I started taking babysteps into leadership. Is what other people experience the same thing?

I'd be really interested to see how it is that you decided that the Catholic Church wasn't right from you, and if your experience matched in any way what I was just speculating about.

Re:(cla-click) Ahhhhh! (1)

elmegil (12001) | more than 10 years ago | (#7988873)

My reasons for leaving Christianity as a whole are quite a bit more involved than simply leaving Catholicism, though that was where I started. As I said, I don't think this is the time or place. I've been debating the idea of writing my own journal entry about where I've been on this road, since I'm pretty cynical about such things and don't want to burden other people's journals with my bad attitude :-). We'll see.

I'm not sure I understand the leap you made there though. There were, at the time I left, lots of opportunities for lay people to take spiritual leadership roles in the Church; certainly you wouldn't be directly or primarily administering any sacraments, but you assisted, and certainly had forums to be a spiritual leader for other parishoners. Deaconship, leading RCIA (conversion) classes, involvement with many of the different retreat programs such as Cursillo, Teens Encounter Christ, Marriage Encounter, etc. were all options to help provide spiritual leadership and exercise spiritual responsiblity in addition to the responsibilities inherent in family life--and this leadership was open to singles and young people as well. And that doesn't include prayer groups and breakfasts and such that tended to spin off of such more organized activities.

You're right that there is a line between Clergy and the Laity with regard to Reconciliation, but I don't necessarily see that sacrament as the only means of providing leadership, just the only formal one.

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