Posted by: spaghettipie | January 17, 2008

Stewardship Spotlight #5

I first discovered Marcus through some mutual blogging friends. I lurked around his blog for a while, and then he began posting about this new venue called “social media.” When I volunteered to help my friend Mary with her blog tour, I immediately turned to Marcus for help in making the tour most effective. We’ve had several conversations since then, and I appreciate his insight and his desire to truly build community. When I began this series, I knew I wanted to tap into wisdom.

Hey Marcus! Tell me a little bit about yourself and where you currently are in life.
I have two small children and a wife that I adore. Those of you with three-year-olds are already getting a picture of my current state in life. It’s a time when I feel it is appropriate to be selfish in an odd kind of way. Which means I try my best to give myself away to my family rather than commit to a million outside projects.

Right . . . so what does that look like in real life?
Of course, the application of that in my daily life means I only commit to a hundred thousand outside projects rather than a million. You know how it is. I’ve got the obligatory “Manuscript in Progress” (which advances 1000 words per day when I can crawl out of bed in the mornings). I’ve got my professional duties and dreams and goals and commitments. I’ve got all of my dreams for the blogosphere. And all of my wonderful friends there. I’ve got my local church where I’m very active in the choir and the youth group and recently joined the budget committee. I read like a hound.

But mostly, I feel that this is a season for my family. I’m not one of those people who is certain what God is telling them to do, but I think God wants me to be as present for my children as possible. Love them. Teach them. Inspire them. Give them a sense of security and freedom to take risks. Teach them a strong work ethic.

And love my wife. She’s in a hard place, working at home with two kids. She still gets to use her Masters a little bit in her college admissions consulting business, but mostly she’s wiping noses so much that she doesn’t have time to build her client list right now.

What does being a good steward of your place in life mean to you and why is it important?
Wow. These are tough questions. The most important thing in my life right now is my kids–unless you believe Freakonomics which argues that parents don’t have that much influence over their kids.

Part of loving my kids is loving my wife. The best thing I can do for them if provide a stable home–and that begins with my marriage.

We also hope to give the kids as solid a foundation in Bible study as we had. As we work on that, we’re also trying not to be too pushy. Instead, we talk about the Bible and God more than we have organized family study time. We try to be diligent about study and prayer ourselves, without turning it into a chore for our children. At times we have gone through various picture study bibles.

Professionally, I’m always trying to figure out “my place in life.” I think God has given me a talent for writing and editing. Recently, I’ve discovered a real joy for web trends. (How boring that sounds!) And I’ve spent the past few months trying to figure out what I can do but shouldn’t. It’s very difficult for me to say no.

I understand you believe we shouldn’t separate the idea of “holy work” and “other work” – that all of our daily tasks are holy. How did you come to that belief? How do you think that is related to stewardship?
I’d say all of our daily task should be holy. For example, I played Duke Theseus in our community theater production of MidSummer Night’s Dream a few months ago. One of the cast members asked me if I ever longed to use drama talents for the church to glorify God.

I told her I felt my role as Duke Theseus should glorify God–and even the church in the broader sense. If that play and that part and that time didn’t glorify God, I shouldn’t be doing it!

This can only have come from the Holy Spirit, but I think any honest study of Scripture will lead people there. Especially if you go back to the original Greek and Hebrew. For example, the Greek word diakonos often gets translated as minister. The word just means “servant.” I talk about this more in an essay on TheHighCalling.org.

Practically speaking, though, I first internalized this idea as a public school teacher. I had a subscription to some Christian teaching magazine that was filled with stories about teachers who used their classrooms as a pulpit. It had all kinds of legal advice about how to skirt the law and not get sued for proselytizing.

But that felt wrong to me.

After all, I was hired to teach English. Not the Bible. It felt like a fundamental betrayal of my employer to do something other than what they hired me to do.

That doesn’t mean I kept my faith secret. Certainly, I talked with students who asked questions. I even accidentally converted one of my Muslim students. (And later baptized her!) I was always fully myself with my students, but I allowed them to be fully themselves, too.

Basically, I believe in the power of God’s truth to win out in the end. God doesn’t need my defense, just my faithfulness.

How’s that for a windbag answer?

*laughs* I appreciate your insight, no matter how long your answers!

What if I don’t understand why God has me in this place in life (whether marriage, work, financial situation, etc) or if I flat out don’t like it? How am I supposed to be a good steward of that?
I had this problem while I was teaching too. For the last several years, I was deeply unhappy in my job. I loved the students, but the work was just eating me alive. There are no boundaries in teaching. You give and give and give and it’s never enough.

So how was I a good steward? I prayed for strength. I did my best not to let those feelings change the way I treated my students. I only interacted with teachers who were positive.

And I explored other options. I got certified in journalism because I was planning to change classroom assignments. That certification process took several years, and you can probably tell that I never ended up teaching journalism. When I was applying to other schools, I found out about the my current job through a friend.

Would God have led me to this job if I hadn’t taken the other steps along the way? I’m sure he would have. But I’m not sure I would have been able to hear that he wanted me to change careers and move my family to another city.

Bottom line–when you are in a tough place, serve God there. It’s hard. I won’t lie. And don’t hesitate to look for new opportunities. But don’t let your search for new opportunities prevent you from serving where you are.

If someone wanted to become a better steward of his or her place in life, but didn’t know how to begin, what would you advise?
Follow your passions, but do so in a way that is honest and responsible. I love to write, but I wasn’t about to quit my job to start writing full time. I’m still not going to quit my job to write. But I spend a lot of time reading about writing, reading writing like the writing I want to do, talking to other writers, and honing my craft.

I’m a big believer in writing down specific goals. My wife and I have a very detailed budget that serves as our monthly financial goals. We never stick to the budget, but we get a lot closer, and we know where we mess up. It helps us plan.

I do the same thing in any area where I’m trying to improve my stewardship. For me, goals and calendars and schedules can become a kind of prayer.

I’ll be posting this on Thursdays, my recipe-posting day. Would you mind sharing a favorite recipe? (Or you could just share a poem? 🙂 )
Perfect! I have a poem about a recipe. The poem is called “The Waves of the Donau River.” Donauwellen itself is notoriously difficult to make, though.

Wow, Marcus. Thanks so much for sharing. Your interview was a great way to kick off the year!

Be sure to check out Marcus’s blog for more insight on life, writing, and even some poetry!

To read the other posts in this series, click here.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. […] you want to read more of this interview or not, do my friend Tina a favor and go visit Stewardship Living. She does really good […]

  2. Marvelous. It’s makes me happy that I’m friends with Marcus and Amy.

  3. It’s refreshing to know that all work is holy, when done for the Lord. So often, we only look for a way out, when the Lord wants to work therein.

  4. LL – I’m jealous you’ve actually spent time with them in person!

    SF – Thanks for stopping by. I completely agree. I easily forget that God has me where I am for a reason.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: