Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Designing Your Life

Chapter 7 

1. How many of you are currently looking for a new job?  None?  I thought so!

- Over the years what specific process did you utilize to get hired, either in a paid or volunteer position?
- How was that process different or similar to the advice from this chapter?

2. Imagine that you are 30-something again…

- What would you have to do differently to get hired today?

3. Lutheran clergy participate in an ELCA-wide call process.
(Pr. Mark now explains the process in mind-numbing detail.)

- How is the call process for clergy unique and beneficial to the church?

4. Expanding the scope of this chapter, many “seekers” today “shop” for potential church homes in similar fashion to their seeking the right job, using the internet as a key tool for exploration.

- What does St. Mark offer to “seekers” looking for a church home?

- How would you, as one of the “owners tasked with hiring,” persuade seekers to consider joining our congregation?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Designing Your Life

Chapter 5 - Do an Odyssey Plan

In preparation for our morning meeting on February 22, please do the following in advance.  Then bring your worksheet with you to Panera for discussion.

1. Create three alternative five-year plans, using the worksheet provided.

2. Give each alternative a descriptive six-word title and write down three questions that arise out of each version of you.

3. Complete each gauge on the dashboard — ranking each alternative for resources, likability, confidence, and coherence.

4. Present your plan to a small group at our Panera meeting.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Designing Your Life

Chapter 3

1. Wayfinding is the ancient art of figuring out where you are going when you don’t actually know your destination. For wayfinding, you need a compass and you need a direction. Not a map - a direction. Think of the American explorers Lewis and Clark. Wayfinding your life is similar. What you can do is pay attention to the clues in front of you, and make your best way forward with the tools you have at hand.

- Where has “wayfinding” proven useful in your life?
- Where has it proven unsuccessful?

2. Flow is engagement on steroids. Flow is that state of being in which time stands still, you’re totally engaged in an activity, and the challenge of that particular activity matches up with your skill— so you’re neither bored because it’s too easy nor anxious because it’s too hard. People describe this state of engagement as “euphoric,” “in the zone,” and “freakin’ awesome.”

- When are you most apt to find yourself in the flow?  Why?

3. After engagement, the second wayfinding clue to look for is energy. Human beings, like all living things, need energy to live and to thrive. Men and women used to spend most of their daily energy on physical tasks. Nowadays, many of us are knowledge workers, and we use our brains to do the heavy lifting. The brain is a very energy-hungry organ. Of the roughly two thousand calories we consume a day, five hundred go to running our brains.

- What ratio of daily energy is physical vs. mental for you? 
- How do you prepare for both of these energy demands?

4. Here’s another key element when you’re wayfinding in life: follow the joy; follow what engages and excites you, what brings you alive. Most people are taught that work is always hard and that we have to suffer through it. If it’s not fun, a lot of your life is going to suck. Now, what makes work fun? It’s not what you might think. It’s not one unending office party. It’s not getting paid a lot of money. It’s not having multiple weeks of paid vacations. Work is fun when you are actually leaning into your strengths and are deeply engaged and energized by what you’re doing.

- Please offer an example of when you’ve experienced such joy.

5. There are two elements to the Good Time Journal:
* Activity Log (where I record where I’m engaged and energized)
* Reflections (where I discover what I am learning)
The Activity Log simply lists your primary activities and how engaged & energized you were by those activities. We recommend that you make Activity Log entries daily, to be sure to capture lots of good information.

- How might this exercise benefit you in surprising ways?

6. After a week or two, when you’ve got a decent body of entries in your Good Time Journal and you’re starting to notice some interesting things, it’s time to zoom in and take the exercise to the next level. Typically, after you start to get the hang of paying more detailed attention to your days, you notice that some of your log entries could be more specific: you need to zoom in to see more clearly. The idea is to try to become as precise as possible; the clearer you are on what is and isn’t working for you, the better you can set your wayfinding direction.

- What will it take for you to look at your life more closely?

7. Your past is waiting to be mined for insights, too— especially your mountaintop moments, or “peak experiences.” Peak experiences in our past— even our long-ago past— can be telling. Take some time to reflect on your memories of past peak work-related experiences and do a Good Time Journal Activity Log and reflection on them to see what you find. Those memories have stuck with you for good reason. You can make a list of those peak experiences, or write them out as a narrative or story.

- What is one major peak experience you can share with others?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Designing Your Life

Chapter 1

1. Usually, we define our problem by what’s missing, but not always. And the bottom line is this: We’ve all got problems. Sometimes those problems relate to our job, sometimes to family, or health, or love, or money, or any combination of these things. Sometimes our problems can feel so overwhelming that we don’t even try to solve them. We just live with them - like an irritating roommate we constantly complain about but never get around to evicting. Our problems become our story, and we can all get stuck in our stories. Deciding which problems to work on may be one of the most important decisions you make, because people can lose years (or a lifetime) working on the wrong problem.

- How have you tended to define the problems in your life thus far?

2. These are all gravity problems, meaning they are not real problems. Why? Because in life design, if it’s not actionable, it’s not a problem. Let’s repeat that. If it’s not actionable, it’s not a problem. It’s a situation, a circumstance, a fact of life. It may be a drag, but, like gravity, it’s not a problem that can be solved.

- Give examples of what distinguish problems from situations.

3. The key is not to get stuck on something that you have effectively no chance of succeeding at.  The only response to a gravity problem is acceptance. And this is where all good designers begin. This is the “You Are Here” or “Accept” phase of design thinking. Acceptance. That’s why you start where you are. Not where you wish you were. Not where you hope you are. Not where you think you should be. But right where you are.

- Why is this such a difficult recognition for us? 
- What is required?

(For the remaining questions, please discuss in pairs.)

4. Your Health Gauge - As we said, healthy to us means being well in more than just your body; you might want to take into account your mind and spirit, too. The relative importance of each area is entirely up to you.

- Make a quick assessment of your health and then fill in your gauge. Are you a quarter full, half, three-quarters, or really full?

5. Your Work Gauge - Make a list of all the ways you “work,” and then “gauge” your working life as a whole. We are assuming that there are things on your list that you are getting paid to do. This will include your nine-to-five job, and your second job if the first isn’t enough, and any consulting or advising you do, etc. If you are a regular volunteer in any organization, figure that in, too. If you are a homemaker, like Debbie, make sure you remember that raising children, providing meals for your family, taking care of aging parents, and doing housework are all forms of “work.”

- Make a quick assessment of your health and then fill in your gauge. Are you a quarter full, half, three-quarters, or really full?

6. Your Play Gauge - Play is about activity that brings joy just for the pure sake of the doing of it. It can include organized activity or productive endeavors, but only if they are done for fun and not merit. We contend that all lives need some play, and that making sure there is some play in our day is a critical life design step.

- Make a quick list of how you play and then fill in your gauge.
Are you a quarter full, half, three-quarters, or really full?

7. Your Love Gauge - We do think that love makes the world go around, and when we don’t have any, our world isn’t as bright and alive as it could be. We also know that we have to pay attention to love, and that it arrives in a wide range of forms. Our primary relationship is where we go first for love, children typically come next, and then it’s a flood of people and pets and community and anything else that is an object of affection. And it is as critical to feel loved by others as it is to love— it has to go both ways.

- Where is the love flowing in your life, from you and from others? 
- Make a list. How full is your gauge?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Chapter 31-32

1. On pages 273-4, Bonhoeffer writes, “Hence, the ultimate purpose of God, which is to establish a holy community, is at last fulfilled in the Body of Christ.  God dwells in it with the Holy Spirit.  How does all this come to pass?  How does God create a community of saints out of sinful men and women?  The answer is that God justifies himself by appearing as his own advocate in defense of his own righteousness.  And it is in the cross of Christ that this supreme miracle happens.”

- Yes, we are wading into deep theological waters here.  How would you describe this miracle of redemption through the cross?

2. On pages 276-7, “The proclamation of the death of Christ for us is the preaching of justification.  The means whereby we are incorporated into the Body of Christ, that is, into his death and resurrection is baptism.  Just as Christ died once and for all, so we are baptized and justified once and for all.  Both events are in the strictest sense unrepeatable.  Only repeatable is the recollection of the event that happened for our sake once and for all, and it needs to be repeated daily.”

-  Explain how Jesus’s death & resurrection are directly linked to God’s gracious act of baptism on our behalf.  What do they share?

3. On page 279, “Sanctification means that the Christians have been judged already, and that they are being preserved until the coming of Christ and are ever advancing towards it.  All this has a threefold significance for the community of the saints.  First, their sanctification will be maintained by their being clearly separated from the world.  Secondly, it will be maintained thorough their walking in a way which is worthy of the holiness of God.  Thirdly, their sanctification will be hidden, and they must wait for the day of Jesus Christ.  Sanctification is therefore possible only within the visible Church.”

- How do you experience sanctification through acts of separation from the world, walking worthy, and waiting for Jesus’ return?

4. On page 287, “The community of the saints is not an ‘ideal’ community consisting of perfect and sinless men and women, where there is no need of further repentance.  No, it is a community which proves that it is worthy of the gospel of forgiveness by constantly and sincerely proclaiming God’s forgiveness (which has nothing to do with self-forgiveness).  It is a community of men and women who have genuinely encountered the precious grace of God, and who walk worthily of the gospel by not casting that grace recklessly away.”

- How has being a part of this grace community shaped your understanding and claiming of God’s forgiveness.

5. On page 296, “We cling in faith to Christ and his works alone.  For we have the promise that those who are in Christ Jesus will be enabled to do good works, which will testify for them in the day of judgement. They will be preserved and sanctified until the last day. All we can do is to believe in God’s Word, rely on his promise, and walk in the good works which he has prepared for us.”

- “Believe, rely, walk”… these are the good works that carry us forward in faith.  How do they define your “life journey” today?

6. On pages 302-3, “If we are confirmed to his image in his Incarnation and crucifixion, we shall also share the glory of his resurrection.  We shall be drawn into his image, and identified with his form, and become a reflection of him.  That reflection of his glory will shine forth in us even in this life, even as we share his agony and bear his cross.  Our life will then be a progress from knowledge to knowledge, from glory to glory, to an ever-closer conformity with the image of the son of God.”

- As you look at your life in its entirety, where has Christ’s reflection in you shone most brightly?
- Where are you experiencing “progress” toward conformity with Christ?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Chapter 30

1. On page 249, “The body of the exalted Lord is also a visible body in the shape of the Church.  How is this body made visible? In the first place, through the preaching of the word.”

- What effect has preaching had on your life, both in the present and in the past?  Give examples, please.

2. On page 250, “Furthermore, when this Word comes, the Holy Spirit comes, showing to Christian, both individually and corporately, the gifts of the incarnate Christ to man.  He produces faith in his hearers, that they may discern in the preaching the entry of Jesus Christ.  He opens their eyes to see Christ coming into their midst in the power of his Body to tell us that he has received us and will receive us again to-day.”

-  How is the Holy Trinity at work here?  
- What is the specific role of each part of the Trinity?

3. On page 251, “But preaching is not the only means whereby the Church takes visible form.  That is also done by the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, both of which flow from the true humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Body of Christ becomes visible to the world in the congregation gathered round the Word and Sacrament.”

- How would you describe the role and value of each sacrament?

4. On page 254, “It is instructive to note that the fellowship is mentioned between Word & Sacrament.  This no accident, for fellowship always springs from the Word and finds its goal and completion in the Lord’s Supper.  The whole common life of the Christian fellowship oscillates between Word & Sacrament; it begins and ends in worship.  It looks forward in expectation to the final banquet in the kingdom of God.”

- How do you experience the truth of this fellowship in worship?
- How is this different from other fellowship events?

5. On page 258, “The member of the Body of Christ has been delivered from the world and called out of it.  He must give the world a visible proof of his calling, not only by sharing in the Church’s worship and discipline, but also through the new fellowship of brotherly living.”

- How might you describe the “visible proof of your calling?”
- How is that identity in Christ manifested in fellowship?

6. On page 264, “Let the Christian remain in the world…to engage in frontal assault on it, and let him live the life of his secular calling in order to show himself as a stranger in this world all the more.  But that is only possible if we are visible members of the Church.  The antithesis between the world and the Church must be borne out in the world.  That was the purpose of the incarnation.  That is why Christ died among his enemies.  That is the reason and the only reason why the slave must remain a slave and the Christian remain subject to the powers that be.”

- Where is this dual citizenship most realized in your life?

7. On page 267, “Such is the life of the Church in the world.  Christians live like other men; they get married, they mourn and rejoice, they buy their requirements and use the world for the purpose of day-to-day existence.  But they have everything through Christ alone, in him and for his sake.  Thus, they are not bound by it.  They have everything as though they had it not.  They do not set their heart on their possessions, but are inwardly free.  That is why they are able to make use of the world without withdrawing from it altogether.”

- How does this freedom inform & affect your daily choices?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Chapter 19-23

1. On page 193, “God will not ask us in that day whether we were good Protestants, but whether we have done his will.  We will be asked the same question as everybody else.  The Church is marked off from the world not by a special privilege, but by the gracious election and calling of God.”

- As it pertains to God’s will, what have we been elected and called to do on behalf of Jesus and his gospel?  Please be specific.

2. On page 195, “But Christ’s followers must ask by what ultimate criterion Jesus will accept or reject them.  Who will pass the test, and who will not?  The answer lies in the words of Jesus to the last of the rejected: ‘I have never known you.’ Here we are at last, here is the secret we have been waiting for since the Sermon on the Mount began.  Here is the crucial question – has Jesus known us or not?  There is nothing left for us to cling to, not even our confession or our obedience.  There is only his word: ‘I have known thee,’ which is his eternal word and call.  If we follow Christ, cling to his word, and let everything else go, it will see us through the day of judgement.  His word is his grace.”

-  How do you understand the “ultimate criterion” by which Jesus will accept or reject you?  What is your response to that?

3. On page 196, “Humanly speaking, we could understand and interpret the Sermon on the Mount in a thousand different ways.  Jesus knows only one possibility: simple surrender and obedience, not interpreting it or applying it, but doing and obeying it.  That is the only way to hear his word.  But again, he does not mean that it is to be discussed as an ideal, he really means us to get on with it.”

- What does “simple surrender & obedience” compel us to do?

4. On page 197, “There is only one other possibility, that of failing to do it.  It is impossible to want to do it and yet not do it.  To deal with the word of Jesus otherwise than by doing it is to give him the lie.  It is to deny the Sermon on the Mount and to say No to his word.  If we start asking questions, posing problems, and offering interpretations, we are not doing his word.  Once again, the shades of the rich young man and the lawyer of Luke 10 are raising their heads.”

- When are we most apt to respond is this fashion?  Why?

5. On page 203, There is now no time to lose: the work of harvest brooks no delay.  ‘But the laborers are few.’  Jesus is looking for help, for he cannot do the work alone.  Who will come forward to help him and work with him?  Only God knows, and he must give them to his Son.  No man dares presume to come forward and offer himself on his own initiative, not even the disciples themselves.  Their duty is to pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers at the right moment, for the time is ripe.”

- Is this a model response for the Church today?

6. On page 205, “No power in the world could have united these men for a common task, save the call of Jesus.  But that call transcended all their previous divisions, and established a new and steadfast fellowship in Jesus.”

- Where have you witnessed this remarkable call of Jesus?
- What new fellowships emerged in response to that call?

7. On page 206, “In his very first word, Jesus lays down a limitation of their work, a circumstance which they must inevitably have found strange and difficult.  The choice of field for their labors does not depend on their own impulses or inclinations, but on where they are sent.  This makes it quite clear that it is not their own work they are doing, but God’s.”

- How do you discern where Jesus is sending you?

8. On page 211, “Vice and sin may be forgiven, according to the word of Jesus, but the man who rejects the word of salvation has thrown away his last chance.  To refuse to believe in the gospel is the worst sin imaginable, and if that happens the messengers can do nothing but leave the place.  They go because the Word cannot remain there.”

- How does this provide context and clarity for our work?