Monday, January 11, 2010

New Year's Resolution | Getting Out of My Head

I never make New Year's resolutions. Usually because I think I'm above that sort of thing. As you know, New Year's resolutions have this reputation of not being helpful. They rarely make it out of January (or so I hear), and the skeptic inside me has wondered: why bother? Well this year, I spontaneously made a resolution. It's practical, measurable and will hopefully preserve my sanity a bit. In 2010, I resolve to spend a half-hour of each of my workdays READING.

This is not reading for sermon or Bible study prep. Just reading. I hope to spend a half-hour a day reading at home as well, but that's not part of the resolution. Thirty minutes a day. Should be doable.

A little background on why this resolution is of particular importance to me in 2010.

It may seem at first counterintuitive, or maybe it will give voice to what you've always suspected or known, but I think that pastors have a tendency to be self-absorbed. We are not all self-absorbed (notice I said "tendency"), but we spend a lot of time with our own thoughts, speaking our interpretations to a (sometimes) captive audience, and we are generally immersed in situations where "faking it" is much easier than seeking the help of others. Many pastors exist in a minefield, and left unchecked, those mines start exploding, leaving the pastor badly injured and their families and churches barraged with shrapnel. But you have probably already heard (or experienced) some of those stories.

Anyway, as I come to the end of my first year in pastoral ministry, I sense a strong need to get outside of my own head each day. I do this by sharing difficult situations with friends, journaling, taking my alloted time off, dancing with my wife and kids, pretending my kitchen is a karaoke bar, composing absurdist limericks, and by reading.

The sermon I preach cannot be the only one I hear each week. I crave the perspective of great thinkers and prophets of ages past and present. I am never tempted to ignore the voices of the musician/poets of the age (as evidenced by my previous two posts), but reading the prophetic words of great novelists, essayists and theologians doesn't come as naturally. It requires more work. It isn't part of my rhythm. It can feel like academic rigor. Plus, I'm pretty good at pretending to be well read.

I need this resolution, and eleven days in, it's going pretty well. I sure hope my resolution makes it past January.

How about you? Any pressing resolutions for you in 2010? Thoughts on the concept of the resolution? Suggestions for good books?

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At 4:38 PM EST , Blogger Nate said...

I see The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay in your pic. I will be starting that one as soon as I finish what I am currently reading- Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dunber. Maybe we could be reading buddies!

Also, I just read a great book on hermeneutics recommended to me by Nowak. Its called Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis by William J. Webb.

At 4:49 PM EST , Blogger Tall Pants said...

Yeah man. They've been using "Slaves, Women & Homosexuals..." at North Park in their Women, the Bible and the Church class. I've wanted to read it for awhile. I'll have to pick it up.

Right now I'm finishing up "Oil!" by Upton Sinclair and just started rereading "Blue Like Jazz" before I dive into "A Million Miles..." But if you're gonna start "Amazing Adventures..." I might start there instead. It would be fun to discuss, perhaps? Let me know when you're done with "Freakonomics".

At 6:19 PM EST , Blogger Nate said...

Yo, thought I'd give you a heads up. I'm starting Kavalier & Clay now if you want to read it at the same time. But if you're anything like me you've probably got more books to read than humanly possible and your own plan for tackling them. So don't feel any pressure.


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