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Bracket Madness

By April 10, 2014Work it Out



All hail the Connecticut Huskies! (Sorry Wildcats!) I will not be publicly discussing the final state of my NCAA bracket but will admit that all of this March Madness has me thinking. Sometimes we refer to vocation as a career “path,” but the path doesn’t always feel very linear. Perhaps it is more accurately described as a competition bracket where our skills, interests, values and goals vie for priority in our lives.

Some occupations fail the single-elimination challenge early in life.

Round 1: Ballerina vs. Veterinarian
Outcome: Ballerina (I faint at the sight of blood.)

Round 2: Ballerina vs. Astronaut
Outcome: Astronaut (Math > Rhythm)

So on and so forth until we arrive at a number of possibilities where our skills match up with the needs of our community. Over time, the competition becomes more abstract, and the battles become more fierce.

Go to college vs. Join a start-up

Stay in current stable job vs. Try for dream job in a new city/country

Unlikely competitors win bids against seeded favorites as our inspirations and influences impact our choices. Perhaps God provides an unexpected calling or a love interest; maybe we experience heartbreak; or our eyes become open to a need in the world that stirs us to action.

Continue as a corporate lawyer vs. Start an international humanitarian organization

Opt for stay-at-home parenting vs. Remain on your career track

After each match-up the choices narrow. Unfortunately, the rules of “real life” are not as clear cut as in basketball where fouls are clearly defined and referees stand by with whistles to pause play and decree clear rulings. Whether you take an elbow to the face or score a perfect three-point shot, the game marches on.

Sometimes there are upsides to defining our own rules. For example, the NCAA allows only four teams in the Final Four and, in the end, only one winner. The structure is defined. In our bracket we can choose multiple strategies at any given time. We can be an economist AND a blog writer; an accountant AND an artist; or an Olympic athlete AND an advertising guru.

Over time our passions bubble up to the surface and shut out lesser opponents. Occasionally God even interjects new experiences and influences in a double-overtime battle and changes the game completely. (For those of you who recently read “Love Does,” Bob Goff’s appointment as Honorary Consul for the Republic of Uganda to the United States offers an example of a divine game-changer.)

More importantly, we also have the opportunity to set our own definitions of “win” and “loss.” I have a friend who recently left a distinguished corporate job to attend culinary school. It was a huge risk. After several semesters of classes and countless hours sweating out internships, he realized that it was not a good fit. Friends, THAT is a victory in overtime. Taking a risk to explore calling was a victory for their family. It took a lot of courage to go back to corporate life.

That is why we need coaches and mentors, cheerleaders and teammates to get us up and keep us moving. We participate in training camps like Blue to refine our vision of the specific role that God has given us in redeeming our culture and contributing to the common good. It’s my wish that when we arrive at a place of retirement, we will know the sweet victory of cutting down the net, hugging our divine “Coach” and handing the trophy to the next generation of players.

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Hi My Friend,

​​​I’d like to invite you to join me on March 24 & 25​ at Blue Conference
Blue is a two-day ​event​ designed to engage people thoughtfully in difficult conversations through curated talks​ (think Ted Talks). Together we’ll explore the ideas shaping our culture and ​explore how​ to find answers in a changing culture​ and embody the gospel in this moment.​ ​ I think you’ll enjoy the conference so I already purchased a ticket for you. Here is a sample of the topics and speakers:

· Sexual Brokenness and the Hope of the Gospel // Steve Arterburn
· Race, Faith and Hope for America // Dr. Michael Waters
· Rediscovering God: Reconciling Faith and Science // Mike McHargue
· The Science of Feeding the World // Dr. Hongda Chen
· Parenting in a Digital Age // Dr. Steven Argue
· Q & A – Refugees and Politics

Please let me know if you can join me as soon as possible.

Your Friend