Friday, January 12, 2007

Urbanathon



I was the Dome Book of the Day manager at the Urbana 06 Student Missions Convention, where 22,000 students came to be challenged by the needs of the world. I came to sell them books. I got to cart around this walkie-talkie as a symbol of my authority. I like the photo, taken by my friend Elaina Whittenhall; it's kind of in your face. Urbana was exhausting; I found myself frequently descending into resentment for having to work so hard. I was put in my place by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was imprisoned by the Nazis for his convictions during World War II and wrestled with how much pity to allow himself and how much responsibility he still bore to his convictions:

The ultimate question for a responsible man to ask is not how he is to extricate himself heroically from the affair, but how the coming generation is to live.

6 comments:

Stacey said...

Just so you know. Your long hours were noticed and at least this one insignificant co-laborer appreciated your sacrifice greatly.

Pete Juvinall said...

ditto to Stacey.

That's a great quote. It really pours coals on my head as well :).

When I first saw that picture on Margaret's blog, I thought that you had one of those 'hulk' gloves on.

Margaret Feinberg said...

But think of all the Likewise books you were able to share!!!

Charity Singleton said...

On the flip side -- when my actions affect the coming generation so insignificantly, perhaps I should extricate myself quickly and quietly in favor of the greater pursuit.

Pete Juvinall said...

Charity - Honest question; is there such a thing? IMO, significance is often redefined in such a context.

David A. Zimmerman said...

I think, Charity (welcome to Loud Time, BTW!), that what I learned about myself over the course of Urbana was not so much that my role there was insignificant but that my ego was too big for the role. In the throes of a big event I do a couple of things: (1) measure my worth by how many people want me to talk and (b) lose sight of the big picture in my pursuit of little victories. So how I interpreted Bonhoeffer in the context of Urbana was this:

1. Urbana is a significant moment for young people determining how they will live in light of God's call on them.

2. Making Urbana work in a way that it supports rather than distracts from young people's commissioning is a task that requires a sense of responsibility and, with it, self-sacrifice.

3. Impressing my boss or my coworkers by my ability to "heroically extract" myself from a programming challenge distracts from rather than supports young people's commissioning.

4. Therefore, being responsible to God in the context of my role at Urbana involves sacrificing my need to be proven important and instead accommodating the bigger picture of God calling young people to action.

I read the Bonhoeffer quotation to my team midway through the convention as an act of repentance. This is what I had in mind as I read. That being said, I agree wholeheartedly that God's call on an individual may require that person to drop his nets, so to speak, and start fishing for something other than what he's been fishing for--in the case of the apostles, fish; I suppose, in the case of myself, compliments.

Great meeting Pete Juvinall and his wifey at Urbana St. Louis, BTW!