Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Help: Not Just Another Beatles Song

I am not the monk I thought I would be at the end of seminary. Then again, I am also not the exorcist I thought I would be at the end of high school. I am not the astronaut I thought I would be at the end of elementary school, either. Clearly, I am not terrific at predicting my own future. That won't stop me from trying, though. Now I set my sights a little more realistically- I want to be a constant learner when I grow up.

I love learning. I love a good book, will indulge the occasional documentary, and am even learning to take good notes at conferences and workshops. I commit myself to reading every day, even if I have to wait until my newborn son and wife go to sleep. There is a kind of learning, however, that I do not enjoy as much. Unfortunately, that is the kind of learning that happens the most often.

One thing I am learning about is what it means to ask for help. I don't like asking for help, nor acknowledging that I need to ask for help. The me I want people to see is confident, competent and smart... someone who has overcome a lack of experience and years by sheer willpower. Perhaps you know the experience of wanting to look like an expert, of wanting others to see you as self-sufficient.

For me, asking for help is a spiritual discipline. Asking for help is a lived theology: 1) No human is self-sufficient, 2) The Body of Christ needs one another, 3) Leaders are first those who serve and embrace humility as a journey and destination. Asking for help is a way to experience grace and to let others grow.

In one of the books I am reading right now, "The Liberating Image" by J. Richard Middleton, the author describes the history of the question "What is the image of God?" One of the things Middleton points out is that theologians and philosophers have wrestled with the meaning of the image of God, while Old Testament scholars were virtually unified and settled. The problem is that the two camps weren't talking to one another, and so the Church has continued to go in circles on a fairly simple issue. Imagine the power of asking for help!

In my life, as in the life of the Church, there is freedom in asking for help. There is mercy and love, relationship and encouragement, truth and grace. I can only pray that for me, asking for help becomes a way of life, so that I might possibly grow up into a constant learner.