Turbo Driving

My wife's car is a Saab 9-3 Turbo. We were both attracted to the car for extremely different reasons: She loved it because it's a Saab. (Comfort, reliability, safety, gas mileage... all the things Saab is known for).

I was attracted to the car because it's a Saab 9-3 Turbo. Nothing says "big strong man" like a car with a turbo-meter next to the speedometer and odometer. I was hooked.

I love to drive that car, because I'm a Turbo kind of guy. It's a fun challenge to jump on the interstate and see how fast I can red-line the turbo-meter, and how long I can keep it at the red-line. It's a fun challenge, but it never lasts long. If I drove the car that way every day, one of two things would happen: I'd crash, or burn up the engine. The Turbo is supposed to be used for an extra kick when you need it, not for every day driving. Normal every-day driving needs to happen around 60-70 percent of the car's capacity, if not less. And that's a real drag.

I see a lot of myself in that little car. I love to push it. I love to red-line out, and challenge myself to do as much as I can as fast as I can for as long as I can. And ministry has a way of encouraging that kind of thing. Seminary has a way of encouraging that kind of thing. We don't do a very good job of teaching young pastors to live around 60-70 percent, if not less. And then all the sudden, when we're living at around 90 percent and something comes along that demands 20 percent, we don't have anything to give it.

But we feel guilty not being busy all the time. The folks that go to our churches already have the misunderstood notion that the pastor only works one day a week, and we are bound and determined to prove them wrong.

Many of us go to seminary because there we know we will get to spend 4 (or more) years learning the Word of God, and we want to give it all we've got. So we punch the gas and give it everything we've got. After all, we feel guilty taking less than the very best grade in a class because we feel as though it is a direct reflection of how serious we are about spiritual things.

It isn't. In fact, it's the opposite. I'm pretty convinced that our guilt-ridden attempt to red-line our ministries is a direct reflection of a small view of God. "

"I'd rather burn out than rust out," I heard someone say the other day. Where's the logic in that? Either way, you're out.

I don't want to be out. I want to be in. And that means, I'm going to be learning how to live at about 60 percent. I'm going to need that Turbo later and I want to be ready.


Jeff Wright said...

Good thoughts. I've had to come to the same conclusion. I'd rather get B's and C's and still be healthy, mentally and physically. If I hadn't backed off last semester when I was taking my final Greek course and my first Hebrew course at the same time...I don't know. I doubt I'd be taking classes this semester because I'd be too fried. I was fried enough afterwards as it was. And I certainly don't want to be the guy who's handed divorce papers the week after graduation. You're right about getting into the habit of setting a good pace now before we get into ministry full time. Like you said, better to still be in the game than burnt out OR rusted out.

Chris Freeland said...

You've got kids... I don't even have kids. I don't know how you guys do it.