I was born too late to be a hippy, and too young to be a punk – but that hasn’t stopped me from playing various roles in my lifetime. I grew up as a shy, nerdy kid, but soon found my voice as a redneck backhoe operator. It wasn’t long into my 20s when I cut my hair and tried the clean-cut, nice guy look. With a helpful nudge from a good friend, I learned that polyester pants were not my best fashion choice.
Over the course of the next several years I tried on many roles. I was the tough-guy firefighter, the player, the cool guy with the cool car, the rock’n roller, the slobbering drunk partier, and the hard-working, model employee. I’ve been the adventurer, the city-boy, and the cabin-dwelling hermit. I tried on roles, relationships, and realities like I was shopping for a new uniform.
I’ve been the rebel, and the obedient follower. I’ve been arrogant, outspoken, shy, and humble. I’ve been risky, and I’ve been safe.
I was looking for something – I wasn’t sure where to find it…”
I was looking for something – I wasn’t sure where to find it. One one two-week trip to Hawaii, I tried the hippy thing – that was interesting. I’ve tried disco, the softball jock thing, and I even made an attempt at being a perfect a–hole. Each time I tried on a new persona, I explored it to it’s deepest limits.
But there was something lacking. There was an emptiness. I’d already abandoned the “nice” Christian approach – I wasn’t sure where to turn next. It was becoming increasingly obvious that I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin.
So, somewhere along the journey, after years of introspection, I began to develop an approach and vision for life that has served me well for years. I’m a student of popular culture, trends, opinions, and biographies of successful people. A common theme developed in my mind – people that make a difference seemed to do one thing well. From my exploration, I’ve discovered that people who are true to their own calling, are most likely to make a difference in the world. They are also the most likely to fail – often.
As I have sought to be real, authentic, relevant, experimental, and transparent – I have found great peace in my soul. And as I morphed out of EMS and into the role of a spiritual leader, I discovered these are exactly the traits people are looking for in their spiritual journey. Unfortunately, they are not traits that are readily embraced by the Church. In fact, this became a moral issue for me – to see the transformation of the Church, from staid institution, to a dangerous movement of people who embrace growth at all costs – and therefore welcome everyone into their circle.
Unfortunately, this didn’t work out so well – at least in the short run. A few years down the road, we are more free than ever to be our authentic selves. And now I work in a position that requires me to competent, hard-working, and liked – it is no longer my job to save the world – only to save lives.
I’ve never been a “just a job” kind of guy.”
So, being an idealistic visionary is great when I’m living adolescent dreams, but at some point a man needs to grow up and feed his family. Balancing the vision with realism is always a challenge. I was taught to be a hard-working, accomplish-the -impossible kind of person, and so in some respects the real balancing act, for me, is learning how to remain a hard-working, get-r-done kind of guy, but still reserve space and time for my family. How do I pour my heart and soul into my work, but remain cheerful and friendly? How do I hang onto my vision to see the Portland Metro Area develop a premier EMS System, yet still leave room for it to still be “just a job.”
I’ve never been a “just a job” kind of guy. That doesn’t fit my nature. I also put a high value on authentic transparency – but I should spare my co-workers from the drama that is my life.
How can I be strong, and weak? How should I be a leader, and a follower? When is it OK to be right; and when is it OK to be left behind? Is it OK to be self assured; and how does one do that humbly?”
Maybe, probably, I should assume the role I’ve been chosen to play. Like Joseph, there isn’t always a need to share my dreams. Most likely, I should live one day at a time, and live that day well. What say you?
Balancing the vision with realism is always a challenge.”