why?

Here’s an entry for Our Daily Journey that I worked up today.  It made me stop and think, so I share it with you in the hopes that you might profit and give me ways to improve it. 

read > Ecclesiastes 4:1-8

Who am I working for?  Why am I giving up so much pleasure now? (v. 8).

Lou Gehrig may not have died from Lou Gehrig’s disease.  The Hall of Fame baseball player is the namesake for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (A.L.S.), a horrific neurological disease that slowly paralyzes its victims until they eventually suffocate.  New research indicates that perhaps Gehrig did not have A.L.S., but suffered similar symptoms caused by numerous blows to his brain.

Gehrig was the legendary Iron-Man who played in 2,130 consecutive games.  He started one game the day after he was hit by a pitch, with a bump on his head so large that he wore Babe Ruth’s larger cap.  We praise Gehrig for his steeled resolve to play through pain, but his commitment to baseball may have led to the disease that killed him.  Gehrig was really good at what he did, but what he did may have ruined his life. 

Was it worth it?  This question nags the young lawyer eating takeout as he proofreads documents deep into the night.  His job drains the joy from his life but he owes too much to the bank to do anything else. 

Is it worth it?  This question haunts the dreams of the traveling businessman.  He is making more money than he can responsibly spend, but he is gone more than he is home.  

If you have drive and talent, there is a good chance that you are good at what you do.  But don’t let the good get in the way of what is best.  You owe it to God, yourself, and those who love you to ask the big question:  Why are you doing this? 

Is your career, business, or obsession with writing a novel keeping you from the people you love most?  You may be really good at what you do, but what you do may be ruining your life.  Is it worth it?

6 Comments

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  1. Jonathan Shelley August 28, 2010 — 9:02 pm

    Mike:

    Thought-provoking as always. If I can nit-pick, I think both examples should start with “Is it worth it?” rather than the first starting with “was” – I like parallelism and the past-tense phrasing seems clumsy. Also, the repetition of “good” in the first sentence of the penultimate paragraph should be reworked. Perhaps the easiest solution for that would be “If you have drive and talent, most likely you are good at what you do.” Finally, the oddly specific “obsession with writing a novel” makes it seem as though you are directing this at someone in particular. Perhaps the more general “obsession with a hobby” would be more engaging to a broad audience. Or maybe the ironic “obsession with reading blogs,” if you want something light.

    Does this devotional apply to graduate studies as well?

  2. Thanks, Jonathan. The past tense was directed toward Gehrig, but it didn’t feel right. I’m glad you noticed it too. The “novel” part was an attempt to include an example that women might relate to (not that some aren’t also in law and business). It wasn’t directed at anyone in particular, although I did have to give all ten children baths, when what they really wanted was to play a little longer outside, because summer will soon be over and why can’t their mom take a break from writing a Christian vampire thriller to play kick the can with her children who will soon grow up and leave home forever, wondering why they weren’t more important than the other home school kids who would read the novel and become members of “Team Drago” and “Team Vegan” (that’s a vampire with a big problem). As I said, this was just a throwaway line. I’ll change it.

  3. Jonathan Shelley August 30, 2010 — 11:43 am

    Beth really got a kick out of the “Team Drago” and “Team Vegan” line.

    I was thinking more about this devotional, and I was wondering if you might drop the generic examples and instead talk about Lou Piniella’s decision to retire to take care of his mother. I like the idea of carrying the baseball theme throughout, and it is a fresh and powerful reminder that we all have to make hard choices about family, work, and chasing our dreams, although it might turn off people who just don’t care about baseball (I’ve heard about people like that, although I can’t imagine they actually exist). Just a thought.

  4. Romans 14:8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

  5. Jonathan:

    I can’t afford to alienate people who aren’t baseball fans, especially since their number is growing every year. Lou Piniella may have left to care for his mother, but he was managing the Cubs, so you have to discount his decision to leave by at least half.

  6. Thank you for writing that.

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