How To Master Something

Life takes you in so many different directions. Some directions you carefully plan for. When I went back to school, there was a definite purpose. I wanted to finish my four-year degree ensuring that I could maintain my employment at the company I had been working for over a decade. There are also the directions our lives go as a result of adjustments along the way.

After I finished my Bachelors Degree, I found out I liked the academic environment. I decided to get an MBA. Now my original plan was morphing into a variation of the original plan. Now I began looking at other possibilities. The MBA would help with my career at my current company, but what if I wanted to try teaching at the college level? This Masters Degree would help with that also. So the adjusted plan resulted in another step toward mastery of a new career.

Shortly after finishing my MBA, I decided to approach the school, where I am teaching today, to ask them if I could try teaching in their adult program. They said yes, and now my original plan is adjusted again. I actually like this new career path, and the new set of possibilities. However, to continue down the path of mastery as a teacher the decision is made that I need to pursue a Doctorate. My wife and I agreed this was a valid path for us, and we started on an incredible journey of learning that has included huge amounts of frustration.

After fighting, working, and struggling, and I finished my Doctorate and my wife and I traveled to Virginia where I graduated with a PhD in Organizational Systems. It was hard work, but it has helped me garner the skills I need to teach, but not necessarily make me a master at teaching. That work is done as one is day in and day out within the classroom. This is where one develops the skills necessary to master the role of teacher.

I was looking at the Parade Magazine this morning and I looked at the wages associated with various vocations. One of the people was a college professor who dislikes the tedious nature of grading papers. I would totally agree with that. I sometimes get very tired of reading the same thing over and over again, but I have found over the years that this is where you conquer your tendencies to procrastinate. This is where you focus to finish strong.

The Mastery of anything includes the mastery of one’s self. The mastery of one’s self is usually the mastering of one’s way of thinking. I truly believe that when Paul talks about spiritual warfare the battlefield is not just the physical world; it is the world of our mind. Thus, putting on the whole armor of God is critical for victory.

Paul begins his discussion in Ephesians by saying that we are to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. To do this we must put on the whole armor of God. The struggle is not against the physical world around us, it is against spiritual forces the wish to destroy each of us. The process of mastery in our lives then is the process of overcoming those forces, both internal within our own psyche and those within the spirit world that are committed to our destruction, and becoming all that God means us to be. This involves a lifetime of hard work and dedication that never ends.

Paul tells us we are to stand firm, with truth holding our armor together, keeping the breastplate of righteousness in place, recognizing that our purpose in life is to know, share, and live the gospel of peace. We are to take the shield of faith, which can extinguish those flaming arrows that come from the evil one, and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, the keep our minds in the right place. To me these characteristics tell me how to master my life and vocation.

The Greek poet Pindar wrote 2,600 years ago “Become who you are by learning who you are.” I would revise that by saying, become who you are, by first realizing who’s your are.” Mastery of life or vocation comes from the desire to follow the path you have been called to by the One who made you. I started down this road forty years ago and I do not regret it for one moment. I do regret some of the things that have happened, such as losing my daughter Jennifer, but this road has been full and rich, filled with great meaning. I am trying to become a master. I will not stop here.

And that is my thought for the day!


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