Tag Archives: goals

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

These past few weeks, my commute back and forth to Campbell has become a lot more pleasant. In fact, several days I’ve found myself looking for excuses to take a detour or two and just enjoy an afternoon drive to nowhere. The pleasant autumn weather — marked around here by snow-white fields blanketed with cotton blossoms and tall oak trees that drip a never-ending stream of orange and brown leaves — certainly has something to do with it, but that’s not the only reason for my surge of motoring delight. The main motivator behind my pavement pounding has been the excitement that comes along with driving a new car. Sort of. Actually, our car is over three years old and quickly approaching 80,000 miles. But it drives like new — because it just got a new set of tires.

Tires are the single most important piece of equipment on any car. It’s true that a fresh set of rubber can’t do much of anything without the help of an engine, some spark plugs, an axle and a driveshaft or two. I’m all for finding balance in things, but I believe tires are often the most under appreciated component on cars. There may not be many people out there who get excited about buying a new set of tires like I do. It is true that in my high school and early college years, I may have even had an unhealthy obsession with tire technology. Whenever a new rubber compound was introduced that claimed to hold the perfect balance of soft, sticky, pliable tread that hugged the road like a long lost love, but still remained hard enough to endure abuse from rocks, trees, nails and all sorts of other debris that comes at it, I was hooked. Whenever I came across a new off-road tread design that promised to paddle through mud and climb up rocks better than anything else out there, I wanted to see it. My wife (although she wasn’t my wife at the time; resolving this issue was a prerequisite for marriage) told me, on more than once occasion, that she was jealous of the way I eyeballed another guy’s set of Mickey Thompson Baja Claws (a very fine directional radial that happens to be way out of my league) in the parking lot at Outback, when I was supposed to be on a date with her. Even if you don’t share my appreciation of designer rubber, I hope you can understand why I think tires are, without a doubt, the key part of any automobile.

You see, everything a car does depends on the tires’ ability to grip the road. Any cool track tricks a driver tries to pull off — every message sent through the car — must be processed through and executed by the tires. High-tech engine systems, custom gear ratios, locking differentials, finely-tuned turbo chargers and other high dollar accessories designed to squeeze a few more horses out of a car are all absolutely useless if they aren’t matched with a good set of tires that can faithfully transfer that energy to the road.

See my point yet?

Similarly, I’m afraid a lot of us spend way too much time spinning our wheels in life instead of actually accomplishing things that matter; I know I do. It’s important to prepare ourselves for the future, and every now and then it’s nice to take a turn around the block just for fun, but how much of our energy in life and ministry is lost to things that end up being just for show — things that never make the transition to pavement?

I love the feeling of riding on a new set of tires, but if my wheels stay free of blemishes and wear for more than a few days, I know I’m doing something wrong.


Goal Setting

As a final project for my Intro to Theological Education course, I had to come up with a set of personal goals that I hope to accomplish during my time at Campbell. Of course, I had goals in mind before I enrolled in Divinity School, but until they’re articulated, they’re really nothing more than vague ideas.

I think the temptation with any journey in life is to focus on the standard goal: if the journey is a degree program, the goal is to graduate; if the journey is a job, the goal is to make it to the next promotion, or retirement, without being fired. While these standard goals are valid, I think all of us would admit we hope to get more out of life than simply making it to the end of the road. Taking the time to set personal goals along the way helps us make the best use of our time and energy; they provide inspiration when the road gets tough and the standard goal starts to seem less attractive.

So, here’s what I came up with:

As I spend time at Campbell preparing for future ministry opportunities, I hope to…

• Continue personal spiritual development and formation.

As I move through my formal theological training, I must continuously strive to deepen my own personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the risen Savior and Eternal God of all creation. Alongside my educational pursuits, I hope to develop a regular habit of devotional Bible study and prayer. I plan to focus on developing a style of living consistent with the spiritual disciplines, including daily meditation, constant prayer, weekly fasting, confession and fellowship. As much as possible, I hope to continue charting my own faith development, beginning with the spiritual formation timeline I created during my first semester at Campbell.

• Strengthen my knowledge of the biblical canon.

Through coursework and independent study, I hope to retain a solid overview of each of the 66 books in the Bible, understanding the subject matter, context, issues of authorship, chronology and basic history related to each book, as well as how each book fits into the total canon and how the broader canon affects the interpretation of each book. I hope to develop the skills necessary to conduct scholarly exegesis of the text for the purposes of preaching, teaching, devotional study and personal exploration. I hope to develop familiarity with quality extra-biblical resources, including commentaries and reputable journals that I may turn to for future research and study as I continue building upon my foundation of biblical knowledge.

• Expose myself to the original languages of the Bible.

I intend to study both Greek and Hebrew while enrolled at Campbell. Through coursework, I hope to gain a basic understanding of these primary original languages of the Bible. Following my studies at Campbell, I hope to retain knowledge of key terminology and translation issues relative to both languages. I hope to develop advanced skills in at least one of the biblical languages that I may continue to build upon, practice and reinforce following the completion of my education at Campbell.

• Explore the history of the Christian faith and understand how it affects the theological doctrine of sectarian groups today.

I have a general knowledge of the varying customs and liturgy associated with different mainline churches today, but very little understanding of the differences in doctrine that serve to separate Christians in the 21st century. I believe understanding these doctrinal differences, how they have developed from interpretation of the biblical canon and how they have affected application of the Christian faith throughout history is important to developing effective ministry that seeks to broaden and unify the body of Christ.

• Improve my preaching skills, with a focus on textual accuracy, cultural relevancy and effective delivery.

Through coursework, internships and practicum experience, I hope to develop the skills necessary to prepare regular sermons that are based on sound biblical truths and speak to the needs of contemporary listeners. I hope to improve my public speaking and delivery skills so that I might preach a sermon “naturally” from the pulpit — as if engaging in conversation with the congregation, as opposed to simply reading a prepared essay.

• Develop a ministry strategy that is flexible, but always missions-oriented.

I hope to develop the interpersonal and logistical skills necessary to practice effective evangelism in a variety of cultural contexts and situations, as well as the skills needed to encourage others to do the same. Regardless of the capacity I find myself serving in after Campbell — vocational missionary, pastor, youth worker, family minister, etc. — I hope to maintain a sense of “mission,” living and working in such a way that the message of Christ’s love and salvation is demonstrated to others, instinctively drawing them into the body of Christ.

• Continue to become more self-aware, for the purposes of improving interpersonal relationships.

• Successfully meet all of the requirements necessary for a Master of Divinity, with languages.

I hope to maintain a minimum GPA of at least 3.25 on a 4.0 scale throughout my enrollment at Campbell, developing an academic portfolio that will allow me to pursue advanced graduate education in the future.

By no means is this list meant to be exhaustive, nor are these goals set in stone. At this point in my journey though, these goals seem to be the big ones. A few other goals in the background include being ordained by a local church, becoming more familiar with the writings of the classic church fathers (and mothers) and understanding how Christian doctrine fits into the emerging culture of a post-modern world. No need to let the list get too long already though.