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Ambition

March 16th, 2009

I don’t know that this can be called a better picture, but it may show the stitch detail better.
This is the whole of the lacy rib, and the first row of stockinette.

I did a couple of rows of the Salt Peanuts sweater yesterday, but mostly I worked. Grading, editing, and working on the Web CT course, to be specific. I have lots more work to do today, as well as sitting in on a training for Visual Basic.

Yesterday CD and I were meeting for our Lenten study. I got a bit derailed with Lent, frankly. Having given up sweets and then had a birthday with numerous cakes, I got off track with my Lenten sacrifice. Having gotten extremely busy at work, I then got off track with my Lenten study.

I’m getting back to it. One of the things in the book that I hadn’t done was the personal mission statement. I felt lost with that. However, CD, who is a counselor, has skillz on this type of thing, and she whipped out a pen and wrote one up for me, both in text form and in a nice wheel-like graphic organizer. Was I ever impressed.

She also told me not to refer to my little agoraphobia issue as a mental disorder. That term, she said, means something different. What I have is merely an organic spatial processing issue that can lead to an experience of agoraphobia.

Professionals know these things.

Of course, I’m pleased to know that I needn’t think of myself as having a mental disorder.

The next questions in Life@Work are about ambition. The book has pointed out many times the biblical teachings about excellence: we should do all our work as though we’re doing it for God, which clearly has to mean that we do it as well as we possibly can. What’s more, we’re taught to be good and faithful servants to our employers and by extension to our clients and customers and presumably also our stockholders, and to work in a way that causes “outsiders” to respect us, thus honoring God.

Yet being ambitious and materialistic is just as clearly forbidden. What’s the difference? Life@Work suggests that it’s about motivation, and about perspective. “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied,” says Ecclesiastes. Paul urged the Philippians not to do things out of selfish ambition. It seems fairly clear that selfishness and a dependence on worldly rewards would be a sign of the wrong sort of ambition, while a desire to honor God by excellence in our work is the right kind.

At this point, I thought of two things. First, I remembered a friend of mine who shared that her daughter and son in law, when deciding whether or not they should marry, asked themselves whether they could serve God better together or apart.

I was then, and am now,  incredulous at this. I literally cannot imagine having that degree of God-centeredness, or having kids with that degree of it, either. I can see choosing jobs based on which one would best allow you to serve God (or which gives you the best opportunity for right livelihood, if God isn’t the center of your spiritual life), but decisions about whether or not to marry seem so obviously about things like love and romance and selfishness that someone who bypasses that stuff and thinks about honoring God with his or her marriage seems like some other kind of being, not a human. Which just shows how worldly I am.

The other thing I thought of was the lovely hymn, “Be Thou My Vision.” Click over there and see something cool about St. Patrick, since tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. YouTube has lots of performances of the piece.

Here’s the verse that makes this song relevant to the questions of the day:

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

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