Post for January 19-21, 2017

Gentlemen. I told you how -now that school has started- I intend to write to you each day in my post for January 8-18. That is still true. But boy has school started strong! Because I was out of town Monday 4:00 AM- Wednesday 4:00 PM, I didn’t really start my school work until the Thursday the 19th. And when I did, I discovered that the first week was no pushover. I’ve been trying to do my readings so that I can turn in at least one assignment and so far have failed two days in a row. That being said, last night I was getting close and I am certain that if the Lord wills, today will bring success.

So, if for some reason you’ve taken to reading my posts as soon as they go up, pray for me that the Lord will give me success in my studies this day. I’ll tell you all about it on the form – and possibly here if it goes so well I can turn to a bit of blogging also.

I love you dearly and am grateful for our partnership in the gospel.

Potential schedules. Part 3. A look at the current (and my second) semester.

As I think about this upcoming semester, I hope that I have a more realistic expectation of what it takes to be a successful full time seminarian. However, I think that I still am figuring that out as each section of courses requires slightly different work. One thing I really want to keep with school work in mind, is the habit of a block of time devoted to studies each day. This will help things from getting out of hand and school work from slipping down the slippery slope of procrastination.

Also, three of the things I really want to do this semester are 1)keep a set of daily disciplines for my health and life goals, 2)keep a few blocks of time weekly open for working on larger projects, and 3)travel more. I’m not sure if those things are all possible to do at the same time, but I really hope they are. Making it difficult is the ever present list of means for supplementary growth. It is still true that  a lot of the things I would doing to supplement my education, while good and useful, are not as aligned with my current life goals. Furthermore, they do not account for the work obligations I have at the church. One of the first conversations I hope to have in the New Year is with the Pastor in which I articulate my role in the church so as to acquire a description of my responsibilities.

With all of that in mind, I need to give my core values first priority, church work second priority and then my school work third priority. Fourth priority should be my life goals, fifth should be my list of means for supplementary growth. Somehow, while honoring my priorities, I will craft a schedule that allows for the three things I really want to do listed above.

It will have to have local obligations excluded from at least 2-3 days of the week so I can travel. It will have to have a short list of disciplines so as not to get bogged down the way my first attempt was. It will also have to leave large blocks for larger projects on my local days. It will have to be intentional and planned in advance to prevent double-booking and allow for coordinating with Hayley.

Here’s what I’m expecting at this point:

Each day is split into ‘morning’, ‘day’, ‘afternoon’, and ‘evening’. Each ‘morning’ is filled with “Disciplines” except for Sunday which has “Church activities”. Each ‘day’ is filled mostly by “School work” (on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday), but has “Church activities” on Sunday “BX/Practice with Hayley/CBI” on Wednesday and nothing on Saturday. ‘Afternoon’ is filled on Monday and Friday  by “Church Work”; Monday and Tuesday allow for not weekly meetings with Ron and Mike by Skype and in person respectively; Tuesday and Thursday allow for “larger projects”; Wednesday is devoted to “PoC/School work”; and Saturday and Sunday are empty. Each ‘evening’ is empty except for Wednesday which has “Church Activities”.

That allows for potential travel Sunday afternoon to Tuesday and Thursday morning to Saturday. Also, it’s been given the Hayley stamp of approval. So, it’s what we’ll use to start. Also, here’s a chart to help visualize:

Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat
‘morning’ “CA” “Di” “Di” “Di” “Di” “Di” “Di”
‘day’ “CA” “SW” “SW” BX/PwH/ CBI “SW” “SW”
‘afternoon’

 

“CW”/
Ron
Mike PoC/ “SW” “CW”
‘Evening’

 

“CA”

 

 

 

Decide Spring 2017 Courses

It is finally finished! Last night I decided the courses for the next semester. I started by listing all of the courses required for my degree and crossing off the ones that I have already completed. Next, I listed the four semesters that I have remaining before graduation and spread my language classes across them. Also, I spread integratives 1,2, and 3. Then, I checked the offered classes and discovered four that were not offered. I assumed those would have to be taken in the fall (as they are not offered in the spring). Last, I grouped courses into semesters based on assumed difficulty so that no one semester would have only awfully difficult classes. And here’s the end result:

  • Classes already taken:
    • Old Testament 1 & 2, New Testament 1 & 2, Church History 1 & 2, and Greek 1
  • Languages and integratives that should/can not overlap over the remaining four semesters:
    • Greek 2, Hebrew 1 & 2, Integrative 1, 2, & 3.
    • I ordered those this way:
      • Spring ’17 – Greek 2 and Integrative 1
      • Summer ’17 – Hebrew 1
      • Fall ’17 – Hebrew 2 and Integrative 2
      • Spring ’18 – Integrative 3
  • Classes not offered now (and therefore must be taken in Fall ’17):
    • Preaching 1 & 2
    • Baptist History
    • Evangelism and Discipleship
  • Grouping classes based on difficulty to smooth out the path to graduation:
    • Group to be taken this semester:
      • Theology 1 & 2, Missiology, Leadership
    • Remaining classes for Summer ’17 and Spring ’18:
      • Hermenutics, Ethics, Apologetics, Pastoral Care/Counsel, Church Administration (+3 electives)
        • I have decided that I’ll take what’s available in the summer and then take the rest in the Spring.

Post for Dec 13, 2016

Gentlemen,

Thank you for reading my blog and accepting this a means of accountability. I know at least one of you did not recommend this transition; thank you for sticking with me through it. To you especially, I appreciate you so very much. Please continue to speak truth and hold me to high standards.

Today, as this website shows, I spent most the day blogging. In fact, after reading the Bible this morning, I turned straight to content production and began. I interrupted my work for rehearsal with Hayley which transformed into lunch and errands wth Hayley. Then, I went home and took a nap and played with TinyCards before coming back to work at which point I spent considerable time in prayer/worship before returning to blogging. When I did return to blogging, I wrote a response email to Mitch, crafted a list of “connections to make in blog posts as posts go up” which helped give me some direction. Now, I’m eager to get to part 3 of potential schedules, which will double as one of my To-Do items, and sketch a perfect week for the Spring semester as a full time student.

Before I can turn to Part 3 though, I need to do To-Do items and Decide Spring courses. I’d like to save that for when I can do it with Hayley because of her exceptional aptitude for this type of task. Also, when part three ends, I want to write “How to make a schedule” and turn it into a 4-part series, but that fourth part is a long way off.

So, I found myself at a standstill and unsure of where to move forward in blogging, I decided to write a review of the day for accountability’s sake and turn to Greek vocab before bed. (Which will also serve as part of To-Do Item: Get ahead in Greek.) Something that I didn’t do today that I want to be more diligent to do during my time off from school is work out. I want to exercise during this break and start that habit. Please keep me accountable there.

 

What areas do you find yourself most in need of accountability? How can I serve you in that way?

Potential schedules. Part 2. A look at the past (and my first) semester.

This part two of a series no attempt is made to explain the contents of part one.

Something had to change. The change I made was two fold: 1)I stopped expecting myself to do all of the things on the list so that I stopped missing quiet evenings with my wife. 2)I sought accountability and created a means to report my behavior to my tier two brothers.

Both of those changes came from a reviewing of my goals. I discovered a lot of the things I was doing to supplement my education, were good and useful, but not as aligned with my life goals as time with my wife, budgeting, and receiving mentorship. Also, in looking at my goals, I saw how crucial sharing is to me. I want to resonate with integrity so that “those who know the best respect me the most.” It’s important to me to be transparent with those people I have decided to trust so that I can have input based on who/what I really am instead of who/what I pretend to be.

So, I simplified my schedule. I would still start my working day at 9, but I would do what I wanted (from that list) as long as I wanted until lunch with my wife. So, I started being more effective at fewer disciplines. I also devoted more time to afternoon tasks which included mentorship, budgeting, and school work. The new format meant that morning tasks, never crossed over into a catch up list, because there was no expectation.

However, there was still a problem (and I’ve yet to resolve it). Sometimes, afternoon tasks just took longer than I wanted them to and I still left quiet evenings to finish last minute homework. The good part is that happened a lot less and was more acceptable to my wife, because she saw me really putting in effort to make that happen less. Ultimately, towards the end of the semester as assignments built up, I shifted my start time to 8 instead of nine and I switched morning tasks with homework so that I could be there for more evenings. I really like this model. I’m sure though, I fall into the temptation of creating a new ideal schedule for the spring semester… hopefully, I can keep expectations lower and under-commit so that I do everything a little better and have more time for the things that really matter to me.

 

Potential schedules. Part 1. A look at the past (and my first) semester.

When I was “Considering Full Time School” I mentioned how the hardest part was handling marriage in grad school. Really what I had in mind was the difficulty of communication: translating my goals into behavior and selling my vision to my wife/buying into the vision of my wife.

When I was working full time and in school part time, my wife was very gracious to stay up late and do school before deadlines because she could see my working hours and understand that school is beyond that. But when I shifted to part time work and full time school, it became harder to see the impact of my work and consequently harder to be gracious with me when I wasn’t available for family time or wasn’t going above and beyond in cleaning the house etc. 

As I was transitioning to full time school, I believed – and still do, since I am still a full time student – that this is a truly unique opportunity to invest into myself, especially regarding my understanding of Church practice, work, motivation, and worship. And seminary is part of that investment in myself, but not all of it. A seminary degree is the certification that gives a church confidence to trust me as a pastor, but to attain one only requires classwork and box-checking, which does not always correlate to personal growth/ability (although it normally does). So, it was and is my responsibility to make sure that my coursework does impact me and that I am supplementing it with other exercises in growth/ability.

The list of means for supplementary growth that I began the semester with was:

  • Read/study principles of leadership
  • Practice/engage in worship
  • Practice/engage in prayer
  • Read/study/practice principles of discipleship
  • Read/study the Bible
  • Study/practice using biblical languages
  • Memorize the Bible
  • Read/study/practice principles of Christian living
  • Maintain a journal
  • Practice writing letters
  • Prepare lessons for Sunday school
  • Prepare rehearsals for choir and praise band with my wife
  • (Halfway through the semester:) Prepare material for Wednesday night Small Group

I calculated that if I spent 20-30 minutes a day (during working days) doing each of these line items, it would require 5 hours per day. That was fine, because I was leaving a job that required 8 hours a day and 1 hour of commute. So, hour for hour, I still had 4 left to devote toward studies.

Next, I developed a schedule for translating my goals into behavior (one of the hardest things, as mentioned above):

  • I would wake up around 7, eat breakfast, go for a long walk, do some stretching, take a shower, write a preliminary journal entry and walk to Crosspath where I would start my tasks assigned above.
  • From 9:00-3:ish I would work diligently on non homework tasks and take time for lunch with my wife.
  • Then in the afternoon I would devote 4 hours to homework
  • Last, I would come home for a quiet dinner with my wife or go out with/host friends before bed.

That schedule was designed to happen 4 or 5 days a week with weekends for church, travel, catching up on any neglected task, or rest. Here were the problems:

  • Nights when I stayed out late, I didn’t want to wake up at 7 and “I can skip a walk without any real harm… I can skip a preliminary journal too; I do one later anyway.. and breakfast isn’t really essential.” So, before long, I was just going to church by 9:00 – At least that still happened.
  • Then, sometimes my work time wasn’t diligent. Other times, I would spend more than 20-30 minutes on a task. And even when I was doing everything perfectly, I would be interrupted or attend a staff meeting or a morning appointment with Hayley and thereby get behind causing an ever growing catch up list that my weekends were expected to support. Of course, they couldn’t. So 4 or 5 days became 4 with an intentional catch up day built in on Fridays…
    • “Your Fridays are not real work days and we have to be back Saturday night for Church in the morning… can’t we just leave Friday for our trip?” And quickly the catch up list grew again.
  • Then, I discovered that 4 hours of homework 4 days a week is just the right amount of time to be enough for 5 graduate level courses. So (since I was so behind everywhere else), I would put my mentoring segments in this window, which were 90 minute sessions 1 a week. More time would be needed to finish my homework
  • And like a lot of husbands, I short changed my wife. I would be there when we hosted friends or went out with them, but I would duck out on our quiet evenings. I would go back to church to study more or prepare our budget or write. And it became harder for my wife to be gracious with me.

Something had to change.