Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ping Pong Table

I could have sworn I wrote about this before. Did I? Google tells me that I didn't, and I've written enough posts at this point that I don't want to argue. Let's pretend that I didn't. Here's how it would go.

I was watching this video and after it was over, I thought about how I wanted to work in a place with a Ping-Pong table. I don't know what it was about that idea that got me so excited (and still gets me excited) but something about a job being a place of play as well as work made me excited. That ping-pong table shapes the way I think about work and about church structure (because I think of church as work now...).

Today I read the book described on this page and it has me thinking back to that ping-pong table. Let me summarize for those of you who don't want to read the fifty pages I just linked to. The book is an employee handbook for a software company known as Valve. The things about it that interested me are its core values (lack of hierarchy, lack of permanent structure, importance of hiring process, self direction), and its implementation of these core values (no titles, desks with wheels, temporary working groups). If you're really impatient, you can read a summary of some of the points in the book here. I summarize most of what I learned in the book in the statement "I want to work in a place where the desks have wheels".

I know that I can't accurately predict what my work situation will look like, because God has a tendency to throw curve balls in the path of people who think they can predict the future. But while I wait to find a vocation, I'll be dreaming. Dreaming of a workplace with a ping-pong table and desks with wheels.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


My friend Joe read the book "Onward" recently. It's a book about Howard Shultz, the man who founded Starbuck's Coffee, and the man who is largely responsible for its success. Joe was telling me that the book talks a lot about mission and vision statements. These are guiding principles behind a company or organization that are supposed to shape the day to day actions of employees. Joe has started to ask businesses if they have vision and mission statements now. He's been through Subway, Boston Pizza, and a few others. He speaks enthusiastically about the journey so far.

Meanwhile, my dad has been reading another book called "Renovation of the Heart" by Dallas Willard. It talks a lot about spiritual development and personal growth, but it seems that the essence of the book is about an approach to life. Willard uses a framework called Vision-Intention-Means for spiritual growth. I don't totally understand how it works yet, but I mention it because of the "vision" part of the framework. Willard seems to believe that a vision of what kind of person you believe you should be in the Kingdom of Heaven is essential to any spiritual formation. Vision is essential in personal development.

So I started thinking about vision. If corporations, what some would call the supreme evil of our time, have visions, and Willard thinks people wishing to become a part of the Kingdom of Heaven should have visions, I figure it might be a good idea to have a vision. I mean those two examples really show that it doesn't matter where you fall on the morality spectrum, you should probably have vision.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Crash Helmets

On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of the conditions. Does any-one have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake some day and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.-Annie Dillard

So I decided to become a pastor. After years of uncertainty and confusion, I have ended up in a place where I assumed I would end up the whole time. I am going to seminary. It occurred to me recently that I really ought to take this more seriously. People take time to practice at becoming a musician or an athlete, and it would make sense for me to at least start thinking about being a pastor.

My first thought is that being a pastor involves reading a lot of books, so I am attempting to read more intentionally. It is difficult at times because my time on the internet has really messed with my ability to focus on things for long periods of time. I find that reading is getting easier though, and often I read things like the above quote.

I like the quote because of how extreme it sounds. When I read it the first time, I imagined a woman of eighty walking into the sanctuary and removing her rain hat, only to be handed a candy apple red helmet which she straps on as she sits down in the pew and prepares for the morning.

I know church is not always "exciting" in the traditional sense of the word, but exciting things do happen. Exciting things like friendship, forgiveness, restoration, and love. Maybe not requiring crash helmets, but they are certainly things that people should take more seriously. These are not small things.