Two weeks ago, I had the kick-a$$ opportunity to chat with Rob Bell. Thanks to Jason’s inability to work the internet and Morgan’s Lenovo laptop from 1984, the internet gods smiled upon me and I was able to interview Rob for the latest episode of Crackers and Grape Juice. Rob is one of those guys who can command a room with a 2 hour lecture, leaving those in the audience wanting more, and willing to sit for the remainder of the day.
After hearing Rob speak in Dallas, Texas at the Progressive Youth Ministry Conference and now listening to The Robcast weekly, I have come to wonder where/how Rob knows so much about the topics he is speaking on or writing about. So when I had the chance to ask him I was shocked at his response.
Rob told me that he does not have a specific theologian or author that he references. While that was not a complete and total shock, I was taken back when he followed up by explaining how he utilizes events in his life (like a broken cuboid bone from 2009) and then as he is reading a random book on medicine or architecture connects the (almost) long-lost life event to it.
What?!?! I can barely remember what happened to me yesterday.
One thing I love about my job as a youth pastor is that I get to help students and their families see where God is at work in their lives. And the beauty of what Rob said is incredibly important for me to remember: it may not always be clear but the God is always at work. Whether it is in the midst of what might seem like a family tragedy or even in an egg white soaked cloth being laid on an injured foot (you’ll have to listen to the interview to understand), God is at work, leading, healing, and teaching.
The great thing about the work of theology is that it is not limited to study of thousand year old, dead theologians. Theology happens everyday we decide to roll out of bed, put our feet on the floor, and take on whatever is placed in front of us. Each day is a new opportunity to see the divine at work in the big and small pieces of our lives. And the best part of it all, what I see as the ultimate invitation, we are invited to participate. We are welcomed by our Creator to be fully participating partners.
We don’t always need to have the latest N.T. Wright book on the resurrection or the newest commentary on Leviticus. As much as those things make me happy and excited about the work of theology for now I am going to take a page from Rob’s play book and begin to really pay attention to where God is acting in the little things in my life (hopefully it won’t be an egg white soaked cloth, but who knows what will happen).
So let me ask you, where do you find inspiration or guidance for your work? Maybe you’re a pastor who is writing sermons each week and have a go-to theologian or author you seek guidance from. Maybe you are an architect and look back to the work of a mentor for inspiration. Or you could be a musician inspired by the Baroque period and use that to transform the music you write. We all find inspiration and guidance from a variety of spaces, places, people, and groups.
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