Thursday, April 25, 2013

How to Choose a Job

This is from Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller:

"Paul uses these same two words [calling and assigning] here when he says that every Christian should remain in the work God has “assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” Yet Paul is not referring in this case to church ministries, but to common social and economic tasks—“ secular jobs,” we might say— and naming them God’s callings and assignments. The implication is clear: Just as God equips Christians for building up the Body of Christ, so he also equips all people with talents and gifts for various kinds of work, for the purpose of building up the human community."

"Our daily work can be a calling only if it is reconceived as God’s assignment to serve others."

"We are not to choose jobs and conduct our work to fulfill ourselves and accrue power, for being called by God to do something is empowering enough. We are to see work as a way of service to God and our neighbor, and so we should both choose and conduct our work in accordance with that purpose. The question regarding our choice of work is no longer “What will make me the most money and give me the most status?” The question must now be “How, with my existing abilities and opportunities, can I be of greatest service to other people, knowing what I do of God’s will and of human need?”

"If the point of work is to serve and exalt ourselves, then our work inevitably becomes less about the work and more about us. Our aggressiveness will eventually become abuse, our drive will become burnout, and our self-sufficiency will become self-loathing. But if the purpose of work is to serve and exalt something beyond ourselves, then we actually have a better reason to deploy our talent, ambition, and entrepreneurial vigor— and we are more likely to be successful in the long run, even by the world’s definition."

Keller, Timothy (2012-11-13). Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work (pp. 65-68). Dutton Adult. Kindle Edition.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Not Happy With Your Marriage? Keep a Marriage Diary

Therapist Aaron T. Beck noticed that many couples have a tendency to notice only what is wrong. Couples in this situation often need help to consciously fight this tendency. So, he advises couples to keep “marriage diaries,” chronicling the things their mates do that please them.

"In his book Love Is Never Enough, he describes a couple, Karen and Ted, who kept such a diary. One week, Karen noted several things that she appreciated about Ted: He sympathized with me about some bad behavior by one of my clients. He pitched in to help clean up the house. He kept me company while I was doing laundry. He suggested we go for a walk, which I enjoyed.

Beck said, “Although Ted had done similar things for Karen in the past, they had been erased from her memory because of her negative view of Ted.” The same effect held true for Ted’s memory of the nice things Karen had done.

Beck cites a research study by Mark Kane Goldstein, who found that 70% of couples who kept this kind of marriage diary reported an improvement in their relationship. “All that had changed was their awareness of what was going on,” Beck wrote. “Before keeping track, they had underestimated the pleasures of their marriage.”

Source: Heath, Chip; Heath, Dan (2013-03-26). Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work (Kindle Locations 1673-1682). Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Subersive Pastor

Eugene Peterson writes:

“As a pastor, I don’t like being viewed as nice but insignificant. I bristle when a high-energy executive leaves the place of worship with the comment, “This was wonderful, Pastor, but now we have to get back to the real world, don’t we?” . . .
“I bristle and want to assert my importance. I want to force the recognition of the key position I hold in the economy of God and in his economy if he only knew it.

“Then I remember that I am a subversive. My long-term effectiveness depends on not being recognized for who I really am. If he realized that I actually believe that the American way of life is doomed to destruction, and that another kingdom is right now being formed in secret to take its place, he wouldn’t be at all pleased. If he knew what I was really doing and the difference it was making, he would fire me.

“Yes, I believe that the kingdoms of this world, American and Venezuelan and Chinese, will become the kingdom of our God and Christ, and I believe this new kingdom is already among us. That is why I am a pastor, to introduce people to the real world and train them to live in it.Peterson, Eugene,The Contemplative Pastor, pp. 27-28.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What is more important to happiness: compensation or commute time?

"When deciding between job offers, most of us give a lot of weight to salary, even though money and happiness don’t have a directly proportional relationship. Studies consistently show that money can buy happiness, but only up to a certain point. Once one’s basic needs are met, the value of the additional material goods that come with greater wealth diminishes rapidly. The nationwide 2004 General Social Survey found that Americans earning under $20,000 per year reported being significantly less happy than those in a higher income bracket, but more than 80 percent still described themselves as “pretty happy” or “very happy.” Above this tier, people are relatively happier overall, but further increases in income hardly make any impact. For the most part, people earning $100,000 are no more satisfied with life than those earning half that sum. Other studies have found that this trend—rising income without an attendant rise in reported happiness—holds true even for Americans who earn more than $5 million per year. We may be too strongly drawn to higher salaries because our reflective system convinces us that more money buys greater comfort and security, which is an objectively better outcome. But the system may fail to include in the equation the psychic cost of the commute and of the loss of leisure time that often accompanies the bigger check. A study by Daniel Kahneman and colleagues found that commuting is by far the most unpleasant part of the average person’s day, and spending even an extra 20 minutes in transit is one-fifth as harmful to your well-being as losing your job. You might consent to a lengthy commute because you want the larger house in the nicer neighborhood, perhaps with better schools, but these benefits rarely counteract the negative effects of longer travel time." (Iyengar, Sheena (2010-04-01). The Art of Choosing (pp. 132-133). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition)

Money is a helpful, useful tool, but if you turn it (or even what it can do for you) into an idol, it will never deliver.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Who Is Happier; Fundamentalists or Atheists?

Most people assume that the fewer restrictions one has in life, the happier a person will be. Yet, Dr. Sheena Iyengar, professor at Columbia University conducted some research that showed some surprising results. She interviewed over 600 people from nine different religions. She writes, "These faiths were categorized as fundamentalist (Calvinism [Yes, she calls considers Calvinists to be Fundamentalists], Islam, and Orthodox Judaism), which imposed many day-to-day regulations on their followers; conservative (Catholicism, Lutheranism, Methodism, and Conservative Judaism); or liberal (Unitarianism and Reform Judaism), which imposed the fewest restrictions. In fact, some branches of the liberal religions don’t even require their practicing members to believe in God, and the largest percentage of Unitarian Universalists described themselves as secular humanists, followed by those with an earth- or nature-centered spirituality."

Here is what she found: "To my surprise, it turned out that members of more fundamentalist faiths experienced greater hope, were more optimistic when faced with adversity, and were less likely to be depressed than their counterparts. Indeed, the people most susceptible to pessimism and depression were the Unitarians, especially those who were atheists. The presence of so many rules didn’t debilitate people; instead, it seemed to empower them. Many of their choices were taken away, and yet they experienced a sense of control over their lives. This study was an eye-opener: Restrictions do not necessarily diminish a sense of control, and freedom to think and do as you please does not necessarily increase it."

Here is to being a happy "Fundamentalist!"

Iyengar, Sheena (2010-04-01). The Art of Choosing (p. 27). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.