Wednesday, August 29, 2012

When to Say When? PhDs and Priorities

About eight years ago when I was on a drive with my then girl-friend, and now wife, Sarah, the topic of our future plans came up.  Sparing the masses the mushy details, this moment made two things clear, she would be my wife and my call to ministry seemed to be confirmed.

Since then, in my short six years of vocational ministry and seminary, I have found that our family, concerning my priorities, is in a perpetual gray area.  What I mean is that there is always work to be done, and things never seemed tied up, as it were.  This gray area, I have observed, has the potential to cause a rift in families and relationships, a poor walk with the Lord to even idolatry, and true workaholism.

When I was in campus ministry, I experienced the gray area.  I think this gray area was not as noticeable to me because I manage relationships and people well, and relationships are where the majority of campus ministry work is centralized.  So, in this period of my life I was able to manage my time, energy, and spiritual life much more effectively; especially since Sarah too was working in this same vocation.  In seminary, however, things changed, because the type of work changed.  This seems to be true for many who have an academic bent.  As a result, I experienced the gray area in much more intense way.  Priorities where much harder to set in a practical way.  Though I knew what my priorities should be, de facto they were other things.  I realized as I was moving through seminary that if I were to continue in academic ministry, that I would need to figure out how to manage this new never-ceasing gray area, and truly and in practice put first things first.  I started to realized that there would always be work to get done, and it would always appear to be important enough to forsake relationships and other priorities.  Recognizing the gray was only the beginning of the battle...

I don't come with many answers.  In all honesty, I am posting because I have many things weighing on me - a lot of gray!And I post incompletely, because I am part of an incomplete journey...

I come with some priorities:
1) Family: time with kids daily, quality conversation with wife and regular dates.
2) Walk with the Lord: devotional life, prayer, and local church involvement
3) Discipleship, and outreach and evangelism.
4) health: eating, sleeping, exercising, bathing

False priorities:
1) the computer: email, blog, writing
2) more reading, writing = peace, and true success

One solution that has been the most helpful to me:  Set reasonable work hours and stick with them!  I average 9am-5pm.  This allows me to get what I can done in a day and trust the LORD that the rest will get done at a later date.

These are some thoughts off the top of my head on a topic that I believe is of the highest importance.  Please weigh in on your thoughts on this topic.

Other Practically Aimed PhD Posts:

1 comment:

  1. An important topic. I would say that the "false priorities" might be better classified as priorities that need to be kept in their proper places. Hard to do though. Thanks for the thoughts Aaron.