Sunday, March 04, 2007

On the joys of amateurism

Amateur: A person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science as to music or painting; esp. one who cultivates any study or art, from taste or attachment, without pursuing it professionally.

I've spent the last decade of my life figuring out what to do professionally. Early on, I had a set idea of what was going to happen. I planned my education and dreams on that. Unfortunately, my life-aspirations were shattered very quickly. I have, though, held on to similar dreams and worked hard to make them happen. In some respects, those early aspirations have come true. I currently (for at least this semester, anyway) teach Bible at the collegiate level. And I love doing it. However, I'm beginning to realize that I will always be an amateur at it. My love of God and how I have pursued that have led me to certain conclusions that will always keep me happy as an amateur and uncomfortable as a theological professional.

My model for this is the Jewish teaching style found in some circles: every man a teacher, every man a learner. My desire to teach does not need to be tied down to any particular institution, although sometimes it takes that form. I am always at the feet of the theological masters and someday I will teach a young man or woman to follow the Scriptures by imparting my (admittedly small) learning. I enjoy this thought.

It is strange when your calling appears in a place that you never expected. No test could have told me that I would find such a love in the business world. However, here I've found a place where all my varied interests find some fulfillment and expression, including my theological withdrawals. None, of course, finds exhaustive expression, but that is for the better. The strong inclination in me to find wholeness and harmony has always been somewhat uncomfortable in the highly specialized world of academia. I need to be able to dabble in sociology, psychology, theology, economics, business, art, physics, chemistry, biology, and the like. Otherwise, I feel restless. This isn't to say I'm promiscuous academically, though. I'm a through and through generalist, committed to seeing that no one aspect of creation is more important or fundamental than another. Working as I do know allows me to see some expression of every part of creation in my work and also allows me the freedom to study widely and broadly.

I do not know what the future holds. Callings mature as people do and I'm sure my role in my company will be different five or ten years from now, not to mention 30 or 40. Maybe I'll be called to something different. But, for now, I'm perfectly content where I'm at.

1 comment:

Jason said...

What a good post, Russ. Your thoughts always leave me thinking, and always act as an encouragement in many ways. You're a blessing to me, and I know I'm not alone in saying that.