Monthly Archives: September 2014

Preserving a Passion for Life

Early in my adult life I was frequently described using less than flattering terms like driven, aggressive, and relentless. While my drive to achieve generated professional success, I simply was not a pleasant person. I always wanted more. No level of accomplishment was ever enough, so I pushed myself and everyone around me for the ever-elusive gold standard of perfection.

Since perfection inevitably proved impossible for me I would shift my efforts to making those around me perfect. My colleagues, coworkers, and family exhibited the proverbial patience of Job just to tolerate my never-ending quest for more, more, more.

Over the course of time the planets of my life aligned causing me to realize that I am not the center of anyone’s universe.  I still remember the moment while on a flight from Seattle to Charlotte when this reality struck me like a ton of bricks. That poignant and sometimes painful journey is another story for another day, but the essence of it is this — through a series of deep frustrations and self-inflicted setbacks it became increasingly clear that I am not the sum total of my accomplishments. I embraced the full truth of my faith tradition and discovered that relentless pushing for perfection is not necessary. I discovered the ‘rest’ of the gospel that I had so arrogantly short-sold all my life. Realizing that my identity had been established in the work of Christ and not my own my own performance brought a welcome wave of relief not only to me, but to those around me. Gradually my obsessive drive receded and in its place a newfound passion emerged. I began working from who I truly am, not who I want to make myself appear to be.

What made this difference? What is that changes one from relentlessly driven to purposefully passionate? For me, it was simply acknowledging with my heart and my actions, rather than only with my lips, that there is a God. Once that happened, I no longer had to control every circumstance of my life. I could trust God’s plan.  And from honoring God, it was simply natural to honor His creations, who were the neighbors I had previously viewed as competitors.

This shifted perspective caused me to begin pursuing the power of partnerships and collaboration because I no longer had to hoard all the credit to feed my own fragile identity. No longer did I have to insulate myself from failure. Instead I could work wholeheartedly with others, encouraging their successes and not just my own accomplishment. Every interaction with every person became a fresh opportunity for partnership. Accomplishments became victories to celebrate – not for my own ego, but for my community, my friends, my colleagues, even people with whom my belief set might differ on significant issues.

Even failure could be embraced as a learning opportunity. The drive for perfection was replaced by seeking, finding, sharing, and caring. Your success became our success. Together we grew. People became partners, not projects or competitors.

That, in a nutshell is what keeps the passion alive in my life. It may seem a bit simple but simple is good. It has been said that these kinds of things are ‘deep enough for elephants to swim, yet shallow enough for children to play.” I invite you to join me in the sea of passionate partnerships. Some may swim. Some may playfully splash. But everyone is welcome to engage their passions as together we collaborate for the common good.

Dwayne Burks serves as executive director of the Gaston Faith Network. You may reach him by emailing collaboratingforthecommongood@gmail.com

Marriage – Why it is Important

A long time ago, God created man and saw that it was not good for man to be alone.  None of the animals He had created before man were a suitable mate for man, so God created woman from the rib of man.  And God saw that it was good!

That was the beginning of the relationship of man and woman that we still struggle with today.  As I observe it, we are faced with two developments our culture has approved that threaten our very existence.  Does that sound strong?  Hear me out.

The two problems that I see, are cohabitation, and homosexual “marriage”.  Both of these are having a detrimental effect on marriage as an institution created by God, an I don’t care if you believe in God or not.  The institution is critical for society to survive.

The original plan was for man and woman to make a commitment to each other to “become one” and stay that way for their whole lives.  In that arrangement, they would, with the grace of God, conceive, bear and rear children. They would live in harmony and enjoy the benefits of love and companionship with each other, and the pleasure of seeing children grow and mature to become useful, caring, and compassionate members of society.

History has shown us, very graphically, that when a man and woman cohabit without the commitment that marriage implies, and children are born of this union, most often they fail and children are the victims of their parents lack of preparation and commitment.

By definition, homosexual unions are not “marriage” and all attempts by shouting and law will never change that.  I am not making any judgment of homosexual unions, that is between them and God, but they are not and never will be “married”, and continuing to make laws and rancor about it only tends to weaken and hurt what marriage is intended to be.

I fear that too many good people of Judean and Christian principals (and I would presume Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu faiths as well) are doing what good people tend to do best when there is a social problem.  They do nothing, hoping someone else will take care of it.

I think we have a serious social problem, our families are failing, way too often, to persist, rear God loving, responsible children into adults capable of supporting and caring for themselves, and contributing to society.  We have more and more children entering our schools who are not even close to being at their age level because their parents have failed to do what the original plan implied.  Marriage is the root of our society, if the family is solid and secure, so is the society.  Mess with the family and you mess with society.

A good, committed, and harmonious marriage will produce children who honor and respect adults, make the effort to learn, and strive to find their way in the world.  Then they will truly understand the vision and the need for repeating the process.

How long do you intend to do nothing and continue to watch more and more of our children grow up poorly educated, NOT because of the school system,  but because the school system has so little to work with, and next to no cooperation from the parent/s.

John Weisenhorn